What’s one of the things all professional golfers have in common? Yeah, you guessed it, they all have a pre-shot routine they they follow almost to the letter. Now why is it that so many amateur / recreational golfers don’t follow this cue from the pro’s? We’re all wishing that we had the same game as the guys on Tour. Trying to hit the ball as far and score as low as we can, but I’ll estimate that 99% of amateur golfers don’t even have a consistent pre-shot routine. If you want to play more consistent golf, you need a consistent swing. But to swing the club consistently, you need to do everything the same every time you set up to the ball. That’s a fair assumption right?
I’m guessing that most amateurs were just never taught the importance of having some kind of routine that they do EVERY TIME before you hit the shot., or they’re so caught up with just trying to hit the ball that it never crosses their mind. A good PSR doesn’t have to be something fancy or overly complicated. And no, gripping and re-gripping 62 times a la Sergio Garcia back in the day does not count as a good pre-shot routine. I’m talking about finding something that’s comfortable, and repeatable. Walk behind the ball, pick out a target, walk up to the ball, take your stance, grip ect., waggle once, twice or what feels good, then go. The key is to do this every single time you hit a shot, whether it be from the tee, fairway, wherever. Obviously some situations will require you to maybe take some extra practice swings in the rough or from a bad lie, but once you’re committed to the shot, the rest of your routine should be automatic. Putting will have it’s own PSR, and you should find one that suits you on the greens as well.
I’ve recently made a few changes to my own routine and it’s feels more comfortable for starters, but it’s helping my alignment as well.
- I stand next to the ball and just take a couple of practice swings to get the feel of the lie, stance etc. Only takes a few seconds.
- Walk behind the ball a few feet and look down the line. First pick out a target in the distance to aim for, and then pick a small object 5-10 feet in front of the ball, on the ground, that’s in line with my target in the distance. This helps me align my body and club properly at set up, and it’s much easier to do on an object that’s just a few feet away, as opposed to 300 yards away. Once again, this only takes a few seconds.
- Approach the ball, set the club face down aligned with my small target on the ground. Set my feet for whatever type of shot I’m going to hit. Open for a little fade, closed for more of a draw.
- Get comfortable and planted to the ground with good balance. Check my near ground target. Check my far target. Deep breath. Pull the trigger.
Total, this probably takes 10-12 seconds max. Now what does this do exactly? A couple of things. First, it helps you relax before your shot. Second, it helps you focus on something other than "is my grip ok, am I going to slice it OB, look that water on the right, are they other guys going to laugh at me", and all the other BS that’s probably running through your head when you just walk up to the ball and get ready to swing away. A solid pre-shot routine will help calm you prior to even addressing the ball. It will also give you consistency which will should flow over into your actual golf swing. Start consistent, end consistent.
Just look at the pros…no two of them have the same PSR. Some may take 30+ seconds before they even hit the ball, which probably annoys the hell out of their playing partners, but it works for them so they do it. every time. Watch guys like Mike Weir. After he address’ the ball, he always take the club back half way 2 times to see the path he wants the club to start on. Some guys don’t do any quirky little moves that stand out like Weir, but if you pay attention, they all do a consistent routine before they hit the shot.
If you don’t have your own pre-shot routine, try to find something that feels right and that you can repeat every time. I think you’ll find that it will help your confidence as well as help make you a more consistent player.