How to break 80 in 2022: How to stop wasting your range warm-up

Practice golf balls lie on driving range target green

Hit different clubs for each shot on the range, at different targets

Getty Images

Congrats, you got much better at golf in 2021! But now it’s time to take your game one step further this offseason. That’s right, we’re talking about targeting that magical number most golfers set their sights on: a score in the 70s. Here, in our eight-step guide to breaking 80, we’ll speak to experts, pros and more to create the perfect plan for you to take your game to the next level.

Step 1: How you’re ruining your round before you tee off


Step 2: How to stop wasting your range warm-up

Look, I’m not going to say how you warm up will make or break your round. We’ve all had days when we get there early, prepared everything to a near-exacting degree, only to play terribly. And then, on the flip side, we love the days when we roll out of the car straight onto the first tee and put on a show.

The question of how to warm up has always been something of a mystery to me. In junior golf I tried everything from getting to the course two hours before my tee time (like Phil Mickelson used to do, it didn’t last long for either of us), to arriving 20 minutes before. By the time I played college golf, I settled somewhere in between and had developed a mostly take it or leave it attitude towards warming up.

But this season, things started to change. I tried a new way of warming up on whim and ended the day hitting 16 greens. I’m not gullible enough to believe there’s a magical warmup formula that will guarantee good golf, but it did get me wondering: Can warming up differently help give you a better chance of playing well?

Lots of GOLF Top 100 Teachers certainly think so.

range balls in basketg

To help you stop wasting your warm-up, let’s start by asking a general question: What do you do when you actually go out on the golf course?

A few things:

  • You’ll swing a golf club (ideally well)
  • From tee-to-green, you almost never hit the same club in the row twice.
  • You have to wait at least a few minutes between each shot you hit.
  • Outside of the odd breakfast ball, you don’t really get any do-overs.
  • You hit shots from different lies.
  • You hit shots off different slopes.
  • You’ll face yardages in-between your stock yardages.
  • There will be places where you really want to hit your ball (AKA, the fairway) and others where you really don’t (AKA, the trees)

A better warm-up formula

When you go to the range before your round, 30 minutes before your tee time, hit 50 7-irons and a handful of other clubs, you’re only practicing (at best) one of those things: The literal act of swinging a golf club. If you want to get better at playing golf, you need to practice each of those things. It’s what makes the driving range such a “dangerous” place for golfers, saying GOLF Top 100 Teacher Justin Parsons.

Which brings us back to warming up, and the new method that worked for me, and coaches do with some of their players: Never hit the same club for back-to-back shots on the range, and take a short break in between each. Hit to a different target on each shot, too, and don’t give yourself any do-overs if you hit a bad shot. You’ll hit less shots than you’re probably used to, but you’ll be more warmed up than ever.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.


Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.