Do you have a Pre-Shot Routine? Or do you just go up and hit the ball without thinking?
Without a Pre-Shot Routine, you may help speed up play short term but in the long run, your game will suffer.
What is a pre-shot routine? Study any golf professional or top amateur and you will see a variety of actions they perform before hitting a shot. It could be as simple as a steely-eyed glance in the direction of the hole or as complicated as Sergio Garcia’s previously annoying habit of waggling the club up to 30 times. Sports psychologist Dr. Jackie Odom, Ph.D. and I don’t encourage that.
To be consistent, you must capture some personal routine as your own. Here is the one we recommend, in two parts: 1) Pre-Swing and 2) Actual Swing
Part One: Pre-Swing, some of which you can do as you are walking up to your ball:
– Assess the lie, condition, distance, and situation
– Picture the desired shot and where it will finish
– Select the right club
– Stand behind the ball and see the target line and resulting shot
– Take your stance, aim clubface, take your grip, align the body, establish ball position, waggle for comfort (though not 30 times), visualize your shot
Part Two: The Swing
– Picture your swing, visualizing the desired swing
– Capture the feeling to produce the result
– Focus on feel, tempo, pace
– Trust your swing and swing the club, letting the ball ‘get in the way’
– Evaluate the result; if the desired shot is achieved, good. Internalize it. If not, visualize the desired result and try again next time.
This may sound as if it takes forever. However, once you get it down to a routine it will go surprisingly fast. You’ll find that you’ll actually begin your pre-shot routine for your next shot as soon as you’ve completed your last one. As you walk (hopefully), or ride, up the fairway, you should already be thinking about what your next shot may require, as mentioned above. Use that time to check out the distances, the wind, the ground conditions, and what club your first instinct tells you to use. Don’t wait until you get to your ball and it is your turn to hit, which wastes time and slows down the game.
In a short period of time, this will become second nature to you, almost automatic. When you start to notice other people who simply run up and hit it, their thought process absent, you’ll know you are making headway.
Always remember to think things through before you proceed. Decide from where, exactly, you would like to play your next shot. Then do it.