This time of year, I assume most of you are getting on the golf course – maybe practicing a little less and playing a little more? Or maybe both, practicing and playing?
As you start to get on the course more, worrying about the swing less and more about course management, I wanted to talk a little about your pre-shot routine.
What type of pre-shot routine do you have? How would you rate your pre-shot routine? Is is consistent (do you do it every time)?
A pre-shot routine is something you do prior to hitting the golf ball that does the following:
1. Gets you ready for the shot.
2. Gets you set up in the best possible situation to hit your best golf shot possible.
3. Gets you in a positive frame of mind.
4. Gets you comfortable.
Everyone has a different pre-shot routine. A pre-shot routine is unique to each individual. It can be long, can be short, and everything in between.
Examples – One’s everyone have seen:
1. Keegan Bradley – looks like he is starting, stopping, starting, stopping…..
2. Sergio Garcia – everyone remembers a couple of years ago when he looked and looked and looked at the hole (one time I counted 17 times…)
3. Jason Dufner – Waggles two or three times, waggles the club parallel to the ground, sets up again and swings.
4. Moe Norman – look at the hole, square the club face, look back at hole, square the feet / body, set club back and swing (very fast).
I am not promoting any of these in particular, just wanted to show how everyone is different and has a different pre-shot routine that is unique to them.
When coming up with your own pre-shot routine, there are 3 things you need the routine to involve:
1. Alignment to target (make sure the club face is square to the target). And body alignment to target.
2. Ball position – make sure proper ball position.
3. Tempo – a good / “calm” / rhythmatic pace that works for you.
Again – there are only three things you can “control” when setting up for the golf shot – (I call them the ABT – Alignment, Ball position and Tempo).
Everything else is considered part of your fundamentals and should NOT be worked on while playing golf (i.e. grip, set up, etc.. etc..). These should be worked on when practicing NOT playing.
I will give you my example – my pre-shot routine (again – not for you to necessarily copy – just an example).
When I approach a golf shot I first do my “calculations and assessment” of the shot. I determine the yardage, the wind and direction, I look at the lie of the golf ball, I look at the pin position, etc.. etc.. All these allow me to decide what club I will hit and how I want to hit it (low, high, cut, draw, straight, etc..). (This is NOT part of the pre-shot routine – this is prior to the pre-shot routine).
After I have determined what shot I want to hit and selected the club, when it is my turn to hit, now the pre-shot routine is about to start.
So my turn to hit…
1. I stand behind the ball in line with the target – facing the target. I take a practice swing trying to feel and visualize the shot I am about to hit (as Jack Nicklaus said – “I hit every shot twice in my mind before I actually hit the shot”).
2. Next – I lift my club parallel to the ground pointed at the target (still while behind the ball) – this is my “go” trigger.
3. I walk up next to the golf ball and place my club’s leading edge directly behind the ball and square to the target. I have NOT squared my feet yet.
4. Next, I square my feet with proper ball position to the leading edge of the club (feet perpendicular to the leading edge of the club) and then look up to check and make sure I am lined up properly at the target.
5. I look down, set the club back body center for a split second, then start the swing.
As you see, the work is done prior to getting over the ball. Once approaching the golf ball, alignment, ball position and tempo are involved in the pre-shot routine, nothing else. This allows me to be comfortable and confident over the shot.
If during the pre-shot routine, something seems off or “get’s in my way” – I back off and do it again.
Timing – 95% of good players, including PGA professionals, will start their swing, aka “pull the trigger” within 4 and 7 seconds after then set the club down behind the golf ball.
If you look at my scenario above – from the first time I set the club face down square to the target, I swing the club in 5 seconds.
When playing with Moe – he started the swing 4 seconds after placing the club on the ground. But Moe always had a “fast” tempo.
For many, this might seemed rushed – but if you are confident in your swing, confident in the shot, and have done the pre-work prior to setting up over the golf shot – it is perfect time to keep the body in good flow and rhythm.
In conclusion – do not try and copy a pre-shot routine. Come up with one that is unique to you. I would recommend watching other good player’s pre-shot routines – maybe using parts you like…
Create one that works for you, is comfortable for you and puts you in the best possible set up to hit the golf shot with the most confidence.