Whenever you can, hit out a few balls before you begin your round. And use your head when you warm up. There's nothing gained by taking out your driver and just seeing how much beef you can put into a swing. What you want to do is to get a good sound swing started, to get your shots moving out there with a pattern that has some character to it.
Start your warmup with the mashie, the five-iron. I'll tell you why. It encourages a controlled swing in which you pivot properly and use your hands the way you should. If you start with a nib-lick, you're too apt to develop a pattern that doesn't tie body action and arm action together. You don't swing. And if you rush right off with a wooden club or a long iron, instinctively you try to hit the ball for distance before your swing is ready for it. Now with the five-iron you're just trying to get the ball out there 150 yards or so, so there's no tendency to press or to rush it. Then, once you've established a good pattern and rhythm for your swing, you can change to a long iron or hit a few woods and strengthen this groove.
Fifty-odd years ago we used to practice at Oakley by hitting five-irons to a pail down the practice fairway. I still think it is the best stick in the bag either for beginning a quick preround warmup or a more intensive session on the practice fairway.
from BILL SHIELDS, Thorny Lea Golf Club, Brockton, Mass.
NEXT WEEK: PHIL PERKINS ON STABBING THE CHIP