Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club



Tour Intelligence

When a tour player picks a spot on the range, there's usually a specific reason

Wind and preferred shot shape are the two main factors that drive the choice

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At a PGA Tour event, nothing much a player does is left to chance, especially when it comes to a pre-round warm-up. Unless the range is completely packed and there are no options, a player is going to do whatever he can to set a stage that lets him get his preparation done fully and comfortably. It starts with picking the ideal warmup spot.

The prime motivator is wind direction. Virtually every player would prefer to hit into the wind in a pre-round warmup, because doing so gives faster feedback on how the ball is flighting and curving. If the predominant wind direction is coming across the range, the goal becomes getting to the side of the range that lets the player hit his preferred shot shape so it curves into that wind as much as possible. Once that's settled, the second priority (if there's still an option) is to favor the side of the range that allows for the preferred shot shape to curve away from the side boundary. That will allow for a fuller set of targets for aiming—and more visual cues about what the ball is doing relative to what he expects to see.

Once the player is settled and getting into the warmup, the goal is to remember what this session is—and what it isn't. It's easy to get caught up in the quality of shots and start grinding on technical elements if something is off. But I've seen players absolutely stripe it in warmup and shoot 77 and do the opposite as well. The warmup can and should inform what you have with you that day and impact the strategic choices you make. If you aren't sharp, you can pick more conservative targets—which can promote a better score. Conversely, if a player is hitting it amazing and gets overconfident, that can translate into picking high-risk shots that are punishing even if the miss is small.

There's a lot you can take from this for your own game. If you tend to hit a certain shot shape, pick the side of the range where you can warm up so that the wind softens some of your curve. Change your process away from hitting a bunch of the same shots in a row and toward hitting each shot with a specific target. It sounds cumbersome, but if you can incorporate your pre-shot routine into each warmup shot, that's an even better way to transfer what you're doing before you play into what happens when you're on the course.