Stretching/Warming Up: 2nd Swing Golf Tips Series 1 with ’96 PGA Champ Mark Brooks
Warmups, pre-round prep and “Don’t just slap at it”
2nd Swing is proud to partner with PGA Championship winner Mark Brooks in the first of an ongoing series that features first-hand golf advice from a true champion and gentleman PGA pro. This special collaboration will touch on everything from basic warmup techniques, lesson guides and course strategies to what life on the Tour is really like — all the way to some of the latest equipment reviews.
(See below: Brooks is still very much active on the Senior PGA Tour. In fact, on Memorial Day weekend 2014, he finished tied for fifth at the 75th Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club, Benton Harbor, Mich. Brooks completed the fourth day 6-under par overall and shot a 65 on the final round. Colin Montgomery won by ending 13-under par.)
FORT WORTH, Texas – Even before you get to the clubhouse, it’s a good idea to start limbering up and getting ready with a purpose for the day.
Grab a couple clubs and swing them in a circular motion. Bend your back before and after you get in the car.
One of the things I work on is trying to be loose. As we get older, I think being stretched out becomes more important. Get your hamstring limber. Your shoulders, everything. Make sure it all works. At least it makes you feel like you’re ready to take a shot.
The first half of the warmup session is just warming up — literally — and then reiterating in my mind whatever I’ve been working on.
For instance, in that department I try to hold onto one good simple swing thought in my mind.
And then the rest is more traditional and getting ready for that particular golf course, that day.
Start with the sand wedge
I recommend warming up on the range first with what swing was working best for you last time you were out. Begin with a heavy club near the bottom of the bag. I prefer the sand wedge.
So that way, your practice plan is not so random for you when you get out. You have an idea of what you’re going to be doing before you arrive at the course. That’s important. It’s a foundation to help build your game around.
One thing I like to do is concentrate on my swing path, and take some small cut shots at first. Try to balance it out between your strike attempts. That’s key.
If your tendency is to swing inside out — as it is in my case — as the season goes on, that bad habit will be to swing even more inside out.
Use the sand wedge with a stick or club to angle your swing opposite of your negative tendencies — a bit. Don’t go overboard. If you slice, hook the ball on purpose. If you have a hook it, slice it.
Devote about 80 percent of your warmup time to counterbalancing your swing.
It sucks, but here I am been playing Tour golf for over 30 years and working on the same problem I had 30 years ago. So I try really hard to neutralize my swing path and just chunk it out there sometimes.
Don’t just slap it out there
The golf industry today is filled with club manufacturers who claim to build a club that’s more forgiving on miss-hits. Frankly, I’m tired of all that talk. (That being said, I’m not out here with wooden clubs either.)
People just need to learn to hit the ball more solidly. The quality of the strike is still better on many of these golf clubs when you hit it in the center of the face. It’s just that basic.
That’s where people should be concentrating their hits, on the center of the face. I know it sounds simple enough, but the message is getting lost somehow nowadays.
Let’s quick go back to the beginning now. An easy drill with a sand wedge, or any other iron just about, is just putting your feet as close together as possible.
Work on your center of balance and clubface aim and rhythm. Then hit up to 100 balls with that particular position and focus in mind.
If you hit 100 shots like that in one day, then it’s better than slapping the ball all over the face and maybe hitting five good shots out of 100.
Stand out here and work on your balance and your rhythm because without good balance, you’re not going to hit good shots.
And no matter how big the clubhead is, you still need to find the center of the face. Don’t let the technology and design do the work for you.
After the sand wedge, I usually hit the rest of my wedges on a consistent basis. From there I switch it up. Time permitting, I will practice every other club in bag each day, such as 6-iron, 8-iron, 4-wood and a hybrid on a Tuesday. And, then I start again on Wednesday with my wedges and move on to my 5-iron, 7-iron, and then maybe move into my 3-wood and driver. I will sometimes switch it up just a bit, depending on what needs work, but I try to maintain a routine otherwise.
Occasionally, the golf course I am playing may require more mid- to long irons, or maybe something else, so then I’ll spend time on them or another club I anticipate using a lot.
One thing I’ll do is use my rangefinder in combination with the wind to try and gauge my shots — just to get a feel for what’s going on that day on the course in front of me.
And, of course, if you’re not putting well, put in the time. Always make time to practice putting.
Let’s face it, it’s more fun hitting big shots. However, most players neglect the putting part, despite it making up between 40 percent and 60 percent of your strokes.
There’s no shortcuts in golf really. Remember that — and don’t forget to at least try to have fun.