If I were to poll amateur golfers of all abilities, I am willing to bet only a very few would admit to owning a diligent pre-shot routine. If I were to poll a group of professional golfers, everyone would proudly say they have a pre-shot routine.
So what exactly is a pre-shot routine and why do we need one? A pre-shot routine is the time you spend preparing to hit the golf ball just seconds prior to hitting the shot. It’s important to know that according to the Royal and Ancient (R&A) the time allotment to hit a shot is 40 seconds with slightly more allowed under special circumstances.
The main essentials in a pre-shot routine would be:
- picking a target,
- relaxing your body
- clearing your mind
- visualizing the correct shot
How many of you respond to a bad shot that disappears into the water by saying, “I just knew I was going to do that!” Or if your approach shot strays into a greenside bunker, “I thought that was going to happen.” They are both examples of how powerful your mind and pre-shot actions are because you achieved what you told your ball to do! Good players would see the ball nestling against the pin, or they would feel that center face contact with the clubface.
Now that we know you must pick a target, have your body relaxed and your mind clear so you can visualize a good shot, we will to create a “routine” to incorporate these key essentials. This will give you the best chance to hit your intended shot.
You never knew golf was so demanding, did you? The good news is, you can do all the above in a timely manner. At the height of my playing career my routine took 17 seconds and that entailed standing behind the ball, picking an intermediate target, taking a deep breath, clearing my mind so I could visualize a good shot, and then stepping in to hit the ball.
Jason Day in his prime, just a few short years ago would close his eyes for a few seconds to visualize his shot, we could visibly see him take a big inhale and exhale to relax his body, and then he would execute. Phil Mickelson in his youth would bow his head and close his eyes, again this was his form of visualizing. Lexi Thompson can also be seen to closing her eyes and puffing her cheeks just prior to hitting. They are all giving themselves the best chance to execute and perform under the highest pressures.
Whether you are trying to break 100 for the first time or win the US Open, to perform at your best, try to do the same thing every time you are about to hit the ball. If you just stand up there and whack without any intent or direction, the ball will most likely go in any direction!