Your Golf Pre-shot Routine Is Critical For Success
The pre shot routine; what you do immediately before you actually hit the golf ball is critical to your success in lowering your golf score. We have seen a good example of a pre-shot routine in watching the finish of the PGA tournament with Jim Furyk and Jason Dufner. Jason would line up to his shot and almost maddeningly waggle his club over the ball several times before his shot. The results enabled him to score 2 shot below par on a day when the pressure of playing in a major with millions on the line had to be enormous.
So what does a pre-shot routine do and why is it important? There are two components to a good pre-shot routine. The mental, visualizing the shot; where is it going to go, what will it look like as it gets there, and for us mortal golfers do I have the ability to perform the shot that I have just seen in my minds eye? The other part is the physical; in Jason Dufner’s case the obvious part was the waggle, but there is more than that, the grip on the club. The stance and alignment are also important and should be part of a mental checklist that you have setup as a part of your normal approach to the ball before you execute the shot. Have you ever noticed that it is possible to take a perfect practice swing and feel that- yes – that swing was just what I want to do. Then when the golf ball is there in front of you the shot you actually perform is not even close to your previous practice swing.
Seeing the shot in your mind before you actually execute is critical. You want to visualize where you will place your ball on the course to set up the next shot you will be making. You should be thinking about the whole hole. The picture you wish to see is one of perfect shot execution. Where the ball finally comes to rest is going to be the result of your swing so you will want to give it the best possible swing. A clear mental picture of that swing includes all the factors you know you should be employing. See yourself holding the club with the best possible grip, setting up with the best alignment, making the correct back swing to produce a balanced down swing that strikes the ball exactly in the center of the face to produce the expected ball flight.
Lets go away from golf for a second, you do know that you think in pictures right? You are driving down the street and you come past a sign on the side of the road that says/shows slow down school zone. What do you see? Is one of the potential pictures the possibility of a child darting out from behind a parked car in front of you? Instinctively the foot comes off the accelerator and prepares to step on the brake, just in case. As you read words on a page your brain is busy forming pictures that convert the meaning of the words into pictures that affect your understanding. Usually that means that you are trying to place yourself into the picture.
Are you on Twitter? Do you have a Facebook account? These are good examples, read the first 10 posts that come down in the stream, each one will probably have a totally different subject that you have not thought about until you see the post. Yet when you read them you are encouraged to see yourself involved with the subject. The successful posts are the ones that create an emotional feeling, or curiosity, or evoke outrage or some other strong emotion which causes you to want to respond. You just saw a picture and you saw yourself involved in that picture. The same is true for your work, in the morning you see the tasks you must accomplish this day to be able to go home this evening with the feeling of having accomplished your job.
The same is true of your golf swing, seeing a picture of yourself as you hit your ball to the next best place on the fairway or the green is the best way to execute it. How many times have you been on the tee box of an intimidating hole with your foursome and seen one of your foursome hit directly into the trouble that he just commented on? I’ll bet it has happened more than once to you or to others you have been with. Doubt has no place on the golf course! The way to insure this is to see a successful shot accomplished before you actually do it. The same is true (if not more so) for putting. For any thing you are attempting under 30 feet you should be seeing the ball go into the hole.
Okay, how do you do it? Stand behind your ball on the fairway or the tee box (I like to tee my ball directly behind an obvious divot on the box that is in line with my target) pick out your target. You may want to take a practice swing to loosen yourself up or to capture a feeling about some element of the swing. Once you have picked your target then you will go to the side of the ball and begin your address. I like to check my grip first. Next I address the ball and check my alignment, If you use Tracy Reed’s Swing Control System you will be staring down the fairway as you feel yourself setting up and getting dynamic balance underneath you. Now I look down and insure that feet, knees, hips and shoulders are pointing perpendicular to the target. If they are not it is time to redo the setup otherwise, for me I take a half back-swing to check my swing plane going back and then go ahead and make my swing. The imagination (Image plus that which acts on it) has been working since I decided on my target, when I first selected the landing spot I tell my body (yes, we talk) to work on the perfect swing to get it done.
Here is another look at a preshot routine, in a short video. I like his phrase “to the target” There are over 70 videos available on youtube talking about a preshot routine you should really find one that you can and do use on a consistent basis
Hit them straight and seldom,