Pre-shot routines are key to keeping your focus before a shot
Everyone should have a pre-shot routine on the golf course. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same each time, but it should be similar enough that you can repeat it without even thinking about it. A good pre-shot routine can help clear your mind, and hopefully eliminate negative thoughts from creeping into your head before you swing. More importantly, in times when you are under more pressure during a round it can relax you with a familiar process.
In my opinion you should limit the waggling, fidgeting, and pacing before you hit. The more time you spend with your awkward energy, the more time you are allowing for negative thoughts to develop. Like I always say to my dad, just hit the damn ball! I rarely see anyone hitting good shots after standing over the ball for 30-40 seconds waggling their club endlessly. We all get nervous before shots, don’t let that feeling prevent you from committing to the swing.
I have a specific pre-shot routine, and I’ll break it down for you just to give you an idea of what my thought process is before each shot. I have a unique way of aligning myself that helps keep me focused.
- I always stand behind the ball first to think about my target, and visualize the shot I am trying to hit. Once I have picked out a spot, I place my club on the ground so that the clubhead is forming an invisible line to where I am aiming.
- While holding the club in it’s place I approach the ball and align my feet parallel to where the clubhead is pointing. I take one practice swing at about 50% speed, and then address the ball.
- The last thing I focus on before I swing is the initial path of the club, and keeping the face open. I make a brief move with the club backwards to visualize this thought (similar to Mike Weir, but even shorter). Then I fire!
The whole process is very deliberate, and it is neither rushed nor slow. Sometimes I won’t even take a practice swing if I’m really feeling confident. I just step up and hit it. However, I’m always taking the time to step behind the ball and really think about the shot. My putting routine is almost exactly the same with my alignment technique as well.
Everyone can have a different routine, but my main advice would be not to linger over the ball for too long. I also would suggest using it on the range as well, just to reinforce the whole process.