In a series that I have always wanted to write, I am going to write a reflection piece that describes I did that helped me achieve a handicap of scratch. I don’t believe many people really talk in depth about what exactly did to get results and when they do, it’s usually a flash Instagram teenager or an interview with an Ex – Tour player, that can be very difficult to relate to.
This first article is all about the pre-shot routine. This wasn’t something I really took seriously until I was in my twenties. I was a good player, I played some good rounds, I played a lot of bad rounds (it was only 0.1 added to the handicap for a bad round then) but I believe there was some key principles that I stuck to, which allowed me to kick on and become a scratch golfer.
In this article I discuss my pre-shot routine. This is something I am sure golfers know all about. It’s a pattern of behaviour from when you arrive at your golf ball until you have struck your shot. We see Sergio and his waggle, Matt Wolff with his dip and Bryson with his big practise swings. However, I did not realise how powerful the pre-shot routine is for your golf game until I used it consistently and effectively.
This was the routine;
- My bag arrives at my ball, this is a trigger to switch my mind on
- Decide what shot I was going to hit and what club, I would literally picture the shot in my mind
- 2 practise swings behind the ball, feeling what I wanted to achieve with the swing
- Pick a spot 6 inches in front of the ball, that is in line with the hole
- Align club face with the spot and draw an invisible line in my mind
- Align feet parallel with line created between the “6-inch spot” and my ball
- 2 looks at the target
- Commit to shot
There are some key advantages to developing a pre-shot routine. Firstly, it allows you to enter your shot with the right mindset, your routine needs a trigger that brings your mind into focus and into your shot. For me that was my bag banging down on the ground and the stand pinging out. It could have been however a throw up of the grass or even just the words “OK” being said to yourself when you arrive at your ball. It doesn’t matter what it is, but the trigger needs to prepare your mind to play the golf shot and enter your routine.
The pre-shot routine also has physical benefits, my routine allowed me to align my club face DIRECTLY AT THE TARGET, which meant I was more consistent with my alignment to the flag and fairway, subsequently I hit straighter shots more often. Simples.
However, it also meant on days when the swing wasn’t going well I could rule out alignment as a factor for poor performance.
Finally building a routine you trust and feel comfortable doing will prepare you to play well under pressure. By having a routine you do with your mates on a Thursday, you are also developing your mind, body, alignment and swing for when you play in a Medal or any competition.
A study from Weinberg and Gould 2003, founded that college basketball players made their free-throw 74% of the time when a pre-shot routine was used vs 68% when they didn’t.
I did and still do this routine every time I practise, play 9 holes with a few beers, or tee it up in a Medal. The biggest challenge is sticking with it when things aren’t going so well or you have just had a bad shot. However, I know it works for me with the lads and it works for me under pressure.
I would strongly recommend building a pre-shot routine that works for you and COMMIT to it for weeks, months and years.
Not only did it allow me to be physically more repeatable, but mentally more repeatable no matter what shot I was facing. So build a routine you feel comfortable doing, and stick with it!
Matt Tizzard |Founder: WAGGLE DUFF