The Pre-Shot Routine - Turn It to Your Benefit

By: Jim O Connell

Those few seconds concerning the time you tee up the golf ball, or come up to the ball on the fairway, and actually hit it will probably determine how effective the golf shot will be. Will that be a time while those mental demons creep in, making you lose focus? By utilizing your pre-shot routine that is customized to you, there'll only be time to focus on the job at hand. So why will every superior golfer have an effective pre-shot agenda? Because it works!
Basically, your pre-shot routine is really a series of checkpoints, thoughts, movements, and attention to details before hitting a golf shot. It should be unique to each golfer, and it is best if it fits the golfer's personality. In other words, if a golfer throughout his daily schedule moves through life in warp-speed, he wouldn't use a unhurried, meticulous routine. Likewise, if you are a more unhurried person, that slower routine may suit you better.
So what may your pre-shot routine look like? As I can only stress its significance and what components go into it, I cannot state what exactly is best for you. So I'll illustrate what I do previous to each golf shot, and maybe you will draw a few ideas.
1. Before I select a club, I stand behind the ball and create in my mind the shot. This doesn't mean only distance. I factor in wind direction and strength, how the ball is carrying that day, how I have been striking the golf ball, and I allow a margin for error from problem places.
2. Select a club. Regardless of whether I had before now pre-determined my club before visualizing my shot, I at all times bring a couple of, and sometimes three, extra clubs with me. If I change my mind after determining the correct shot, attempting to hit that shot with a club I'm uncomfortable with will almost certainly wind up poorly. That's the most important explanation why I always choose to walk the course if possible; all of your options are always there with you.
3. Decide your target. I accomplish this from behind the ball, after which I line up a point about five feet on line and in front of the golf ball. That is where I will set my stance and my clubface to. I've found in the course of practice that this provides me a more consistent set-up to my target.
4. Before I set my feet, I set the club on the precise location I would like it to hit the golf ball. I know that if anything mechanical goes wrong with my swing, a great deal might be corrected if I strike the golf ball properly. Then I set my front foot to the golf ball, then my back foot.
5. Subsequently after one last glance at the target, to trigger the swing (I think this is essential) I slightly push the hands forward before drawing the golf club into the backswing. This "trigger" provides a uniform starting point to begin the swing.
As I said earlier, your pre-shot routine is individual, so you will need to figure out what fits best for you. But to be your most consistent, you must deal with this very important aspect of golf.

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The pre-shot routine should be used with the short game as well as the long game. We have some valuable pointers for the short game on Golf Short Game, and an article on Golf Putting Drills will also give you some sound advice on putting techniques. Jim O'Connell is an avid golfer and writer now living in London.

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