Warming Up and a Love Letter to Miguel
Everyone has their own warm up routine. You could be the person who rolls up, leaves the car running and sprints to the first tee, shoes untied. You might tuck in for an hours-long range session—training aids in tow—followed by methodical putting drills, all to physically prepare for the main event, “not leaving anything to chance.” Some stretch. Some go for a jog (I regularly play with someone who does full-on wind sprints across the driving range). Some smoke joints. Some sit cross-legged and isolate an intention for the day.
The mental and physical hoops we clamber through before a round of golf are varied and subjective, with little research providing any hints as to what works best. Even “what’s best” begs an argument, and depends entirely on what matters to you on a golf day: are you looking to shoot the course record, make some money, or just go out there and have as much fun as possible without a single care of what marks the scorecard?
Regardless of how you get ready for golf, the adventure you choose says a whole lot about what you’re going to be like on the course—not you’re skill level, necessarily, but your attitude and approach to the game. Just know that if we play golf together, I’m paying very close attention to how you get ready. How seriously are you taking yourself? How are you reacting to a topped shot? Your preparation also includes how you arrive at the course: namely, your timeliness.
Something that caddying taught me—ironically, and dissonant to most caddies’ flippant disregard for rules and authority—was intense punctuality. If you’re late to a loop, that loop is no longer yours. It’s been given away to the nearest vulture who was ready and accountable when you weren’t. Being late equates to losing money, and that shit don’t fly in the caddie yard. As such, promptness has been branded into my DNA. Nothing gives me more anxiety than being late. I will pout, and scream, and wholly darken if I’m running behind schedule.
In COVID, I’ve been afflicted by a real affinity for the car ride to the golf course. Going anywhere right now feels special, and the journey ever-sweetens the destination when golf is at the end of the line. I’ve taken the drive—no matter how long—as my opportunity to prepare for the ensuing round. By listening to good music (ahem, Bandit Beats playlists on Spotify), and setting goals for the round—talk to x about y, come up with a new story concept, interview somebody, etc.—I arrive at the course ready to rock.
I’d be remiss not to share my golf warm up idol. Miguel Ángel Jiménez has been called the “most interesting man in golf”—a title that conjures, and likens the Spaniard to a certain beloved beer commercial icon. His warm up routine is anything but ordinary and compliments this affectionate nickname.
Miguel swings those sweet knees around while he slobbers on his Cuban chew toy—a half-drunk dry Rioja precariously balanced on the grass at his feet. At 57, done more for physical maintenance than flamboyant showmanship, he noodle-knees himself through a dizzying display of stretches that leaves spectators’ jaws loose, and cameras fixed.
I’ve been told to speak my goals: one day, I want Miguel Ángel Jiménez to lead me through a warm up routine—substances included—before we walk and play a sunset nine holes. To anyone who can help bring this to fruition, I will be forever indebted.
Warming up, however you define the act, is a fingerprint. There is no wrong way to do it, such as there is no wrong way to play golf. But remember. I’m watching.