In my never-ending quest to improve but do nothing about it I was recently enjoying a two-minute video on how Rory McIlroy warms up on the PGA Tour website.
There aren’t a huge number of similarities, if any, between Rory and myself but I watched all of the video nevertheless and even went to the trouble of making notes so as to pass on his nuggets to you.
We learned that Rors – despite really liking McIlroy I hate that nickname, if changing one letter constitutes a nickname – arrives on the range 50 minutes before his tee time. There has probably been some stretching and physio but we don’t get to see what he does behind closed doors.
Anyway, it’s clearly hot on the range. He hits 31 chips and 10 bunker shots which takes up 14 minutes of his time.
He dispatches 12 wedges and hydrates. Then, 13 9-irons, 12 7-irons and nine 5-irons followed by some food – which looks healthy and certainly isn’t a Mars Bar.
With 16 minutes on the clock he booms six drivers away and, with 10 minutes remaining, 17 putts are struck. And then he’s off to the tee. He’s sweating but bounces down the 1st fairway.
Had I hit that many shots, in that heat, I would have to have a lie down in a dark room with a tangerine – and this was most likely as short a warm-up as it gets for Rors. You might surmise that he hits his even-numbered irons on alternate days but this would seem to be his usual routine.
Despite the lack of parallels I too have my drills though I should add I have only arrived over an hour early at a course once, in 1988. For whatever reason my dad had to be at the club at 9am and we were playing at 10.36.
Which meant after four laps of the putting green and a handful of balls feathered into a net we were bored by 9.30 and so, with the curtains drawn and lights on, we embarked on the longest and most tactical – and most pathetic – game of snooker ever played.
After a red and pink at best we would return one another to baulk, have a sip of Highland Spring, towel our cue and faces down like Jimmy White and, every 45 seconds, get back up from our seat to repeat the process.
At 10.34am the third member of the group came in to tell us that we should be on the tee. We were just approaching the colours. Twenty-nine years on I have grooved this process into a precise regime.
The car park: 3 minutes
From the moment I unbuckle my seatbelt I like to have performed my administrative car duties in 180 seconds at the most. Given this just means getting out of the car, picking up my bag and walking to the pro shop this part of the day, time wise, rarely deviates.
The pro shop: 5 minutes
I like to set aside at least this amount of time to chat, ideally with the pro as that’s who I really want to be mates with. Or, next best, his assistant. This is the period of the day I will try my hardest to be funny, engaging, down to earth, interesting, interested and laid back.
And, if this exchange goes well, it could be the making of my day. One inappropriate joke to a misjudged audience and I’ll be racked by self doubt and will likely have blown it by the 6th. If the pro’s wife is manning the desk then I can cut my routine down by three minutes.
The net: 6 minutes
Far more preferable than a range as you are able to kid yourself that you are regularly finding the middle of the clubface even though you really know that you are thinning everything. After five iron shots in total and an extended look on my hands and knees for a ball that’s somehow got lost behind the second layer of netting I move on to the driver.
I like to build in an additional two minutes here for the awkward attempts at cajoling the previous player out of the net. This involves standing too close, coughing, staring and generally making him (or her) feel uncomfortable.
The putting green: 4 minutes
This will solely be a succession of 20-foot putts to a) work on pace but mainly b) to not present myself with the opportunity of missing a series of two-footers.