Developing consistency isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult for golfers whose practice time is limited by their work and/or their families. But there are some things that these golfers can do to help themselves develop consistency, even when they’re unable to get to a range or are on the road traveling. One is practicing their pre-shot routine— something my golf tips often discuss.
Unfortunately, many golfers don’t have a pre-shot routine. If they do have a routine, they don’t always use it. And when they use it, it’s disorganized. Their method of ball alignment is haphazard; they spend too much time over the ball; and/or they line up off-target, among other things. If they’re interrupted, they look up to see what caused the noise—then hit away, as if nothing happened.
Using a pre-shot routine is helpful, whether on the tee or in the fairway. It encourages consistency, guarantees correct alignment, and helps you make the transition to the right frame of mind. It also helps you focus on the job at hand, which my golf tips constantly advocate. In short, a good pre-shot routine prepares you both physically and mentally for a shot.
My golf lessons review the individual components of a good routine. Of course, everyone’s routine will differ to a degree, but most will be pretty consistent in terms of their key components. If you’re striving for a lower golf handicap, work these components into your routine.
Here’s what I recommend…
Components of a Pre-shot Routine
• Stand behind ball/visualize shot
• Position yourself parallel to target line
• Place clubhead behind the ball, square to target
• Look at target/visualize shot
• Relax arms/waggle club
• Look at target again, sense shot, exhale
• Pull trigger and swing
First, stand a few yards behind the ball facing the target. While behind the ball, pick out a target, and picture the shot, a technique we often emphasize in my golf instruction sessions. Also, visualize the ball’s flight.
Next, walk to the ball. Position yourself approximately parallel to the target line with your feet close together.
Next, place the clubhead behind the ball so that it looks squarely at the target. Adjust your body so that it is parallel to target line. Move your back foot back, then your front foot forward until you’re in a comfortable but stable stance. This sequence eliminates the need to worry about where the ball is positioned. It will be in the correct position every time.
Once you’re set up, look at the target. Visualize the shot once more. Gently shuffle your feet, then waggle the club a few times. Constant movement primes you for the swing, as our golf lessons teach.
Then, relax your arms and your hands. Waggle the club a few times more.
Next, take another look at the target. Exhale. Sense the shot.
And finally, pull the trigger. Swing smoothly and easily.
That’s it. Use this routine as a guide to developing your own or adapt it as you see fit. Work on the routine until you have something you’re comfortable with, then use it. If you watch professional golfers you’ll see that they all have a slightly different pre-shot routine; but they all have one and they all use it time and time again.
Sergio Garcia used to waggle the club countless times before he pulled the trigger. He no longer does that. Now, he waggles the club a couple of times, then pulls the trigger. He uses the routine every time he hits a ball from the tee or the fairway. Other players have their own pre-shot routines, with their own idiosyncrasies. But they do the same thing again and again—every time they hit.
There’s, nothing mysterious about a good pre-shout routine. In fact, it’s rather simple. Each component is designed to help you with the mechanical or the mental phase of the swing. And some of these components can be modified to suit your needs, so you have your own version.
What’s critical, though, is that you use the same routine every time you take a shot. Repetition develops consistency, and consistency lowers golf handicaps. If something interrupts your shot, step away from the ball and start the routine all over again. Doing so assures you that you are focused squarely on hitting the ball.
Repeat this routine on the course or at home, with and without a ball. Practice it until it becomes instinctive. If you make adjustments, practice the new routine until the adjustment becomes instinctive. Use the routine every time you take a swing—even when taking golf lessons.
Next time you can’t get to the range or you’re on the road, work on your pre-shot routine. Then use it when you’re on the course. You might be surprised just how much a good pre-shot routine helps your golf handicap.