For most sports loosening up before playing is important because it raises the temperature of our muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments enabling them to perform better and with less risk of injury. With a complex skill sport such as golf, warming up is important for another reason.
Our learned automated swing routines are housed in our long-term memory although they don’t actually reside there in any concrete form. We don’t have a set of specific golfing neurons waiting on call until we need them. What we have is a single, global, neural network responsible for doing everything. The idea of hitting balls on the range before you play is to engage the focal point of the long-term memory onto your golf movements.
The good news is it generally doesn’t take long, although it may take better players a little longer because of the smaller margins of error. If you want to be more consistent or reach your potential earlier in the round why not knock a few balls on the range first?
Advanced PGA Professional Paul Thompson, December 2012