Wednesday, April 1, 2009


“Watch a tour player go through his pre-shot routine, and you'll almost never see him walk in from the side and make a practice swing right next to the ball. He faces the target from behind the ball, to visualize his shot, and makes a couple of gentle practice swings with his eyes on the target before stepping in.”

Hank Haney, Tiger Wood's coach

Here is an excerpt from "The 20th Hole Golf Book Series"

You should use a pre-shot routine before every shot you hit on the course. The idea behind using a pre-shot routine is to become focused before the shot and become more consistent over time. Using the same routine can help you get the proper mind set and become comfortable before each shot.

The next time you are watching the touring professionals on television, take a close look at the routines they go through each time. The routine will not guarantee that you will hit a great shot, but it can help you become more consistent. It will take time to develop a comfortable pre-shot routine and it is best to do whatever comes natural.

I would recommend trying to make it fairly quick and efficient. You don’t want to have it too drawn out and allow yourself to think about too much. For instance, for a tee shot, the main idea should be to visualize the shot, pick a target in your mind, take one or two rehearsals swings, set up to the ball, look at your target again, take a waggle or two if necessary, have one or two key “swing thoughts” in mind, and then take your swing.

For chipping or pitching, you can use a pre-shot routine as well. For these shots, you should first analyze the lie you have and try and predict how the ball will react. You should also view the slopes and undulations of the green and pick a spot you would like to land the ball. Visualize how you would like the shot to look, pick your landing target, take a few rehearsal swings to get a feel for the grass, take another look at your target, have one or two key “swing thoughts” in your mind, and then hit the chip or pitch.

For putting, you will have a pre-putt routine and it’s the exact same concept. First, you should mark your ball and clean any mud or dirt off of it. Typically, you will view the slope of the green from behind the ball and you can also view the putt from the opposite side or from each side. The first goal is to pick an imaginary line in your mind that you think the ball will roll on. In order to stroke the putt on this line, you need to get the speed correct.

Once you replace your ball and pick up your mark, take a few practice strokes to get a feel for the speed you need to hit the putt. Have the imaginary line in your head and then stroke the real putt the same way as your practice strokes. The two most important considerations with putting are always line and speed.

In summary, having a quality pre-shot and pre-putt routine you are comfortable with can greatly benefit your game over the long run. It will help you to become more consistent, stay focused, and help in pressure situations. Develop your routine over time, and find the best one that works for you for each situation you face on the course.