Pre-shot routine

The pre-shot routine is the single biggest cause of slow play on the golf course right now. We have been led to believe that a pre-shot routine is a long drawn out process that will be the miracle leading us to consistency and better scores.

A pre-shot routine has one purpose…possibly two(alignment help). The main purpose of a pre-shot routine is create a “routine” that is easily repeatable in order to calm you and prepare you to hit the shot.

THE ONLY REQUIREMENT OF A PRE-SHOT ROUTINE IS THAT IT IS THE SAME EVERY TIME. THE MORE STEPS YOU INCLUDE AND THE LONGER IT IS, THE HARDER IT WILL BE TO REPEAT.

Here is a list of things that people have been told to include in their pre-shot routine and SHOULD NOT. This list is not comprehensive, but you will get the idea.

1. Checking the yardage
2. Selecting the club
3. Throwing up grass a set number of times
4. Standing behind the ball for 2 minutes visualizing the exact shot you are going to hit
5. Standing over the ball frozen for 45 seconds and going over your 14 step swing checklist
6. Going through a complicated, precise alignment process
7. Taking practice swings till you get one that feels right.

#1-3 should be done just before it is your turn to hit, while you are waiting for the group in front of you to clear…or while another player is hitting as long as it is not in his/her sight line.

#4 can be done in less than 5-10 seconds. any longer, your visual will get stale.

#5 you are only allowed one swing thought and you should never freeze over the ball…always be waggling.

#6 won’t get you lined up straight, you will just waste time and confuse yourself. You are hitting at a target up to 300 yards away, do you really think being a few inches off in your alignment is going to make a huge difference? Don’t get me wrong, alignment is very important, but grinding too hard on it gets you too focused on perfect alignment and not focused on the shot you are hitting…and more importantly, the target. Plus, lining up your body to the ball should be automatic from practicing it on the range. If you don’t practice enough to get that down…do you think grinding for 2 minutes over the ball to line up straight is going to help?

#7 is a joke. If it is taking you more than 1 or 2 practice swings to get one that feels right, you wasted your one good swing on a practice swing.

I have implemented long drawn out pre-shot routines that were suggested to help my focus and alignment. All they did was lock my brain up grinding on keeping my long routine the same.

I stand behind the ball and visualize my shot for about 3-5 seconds. I visualize a line from the ball to the target where I want the ball to start. I walk into the ball, take a practice swing to get my body loose, address the ball, one look at the target while I waggle…and go. Takes about 20 second to get the ball in the air.

Again, all a pre-shot routine is supposed to be is the same every time. A routine that you can repeat will calm you on a pressure shot because the repeated routine will make it feel like just another shot. If you want to add in lining up to a little piece of grass in front of the ball to help your alignment, that’s an extra 5 seconds that won’t do you any harm.

This video is what has made pre-shot routines a joke and rounds of golf 6 hours long.

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11 Comments

  1. Sean

    Being behind a low handicap doing this type of routine is bad enough,behind a 10-20 handicap is toture.

    Sean

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      How about a beginner who can’t hit the ball 20 yards doing this before every shot because they were told that is how they would get better?

      Reply
  2. Bob Saunders

    Amen and hallelujah!

    Reply
  3. Adem

    I once played with a guy whose pre-putt routine took almost 5 minutes. I just wanted to throw a club… slow play is a real rhythm/groove buster.

    Reply
  4. radioman

    Hey Monte,

    Way back in the “Fifties,” when I was about 11 yrs old,
    I played golf on a course that was run by “Mafia” types.
    There was a foursome that played on Saturdays, that
    my family group would always let play through
    They were the quickest fousome I have ever seen, and
    believe me, they were stereotypical Mob guys.
    Once they got on the tee, they’d quickly settle their bets
    from the previous hole.
    Their preshot routine consisted of quickly teeing up a
    ball, swinging back, and swinging forward. POW, off
    went the ball (good direction, nice distance.).
    All four of them did exactly the same thing. They all
    carried their own bags and would play some kind of card
    game as they walked up to their next shot.
    They did all this while fat cigars dangled from their jaws.
    Nobody dared to play slowly in front of these guys.
    Just a distant tid-bit from Queens, NY

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      I used to pull the club from the bag and setup all in one motion. When I played junior golf in the 80’s if the rounf took more than 3 1/2 hours, there was a shoving match after the round was over.

      Reply
    • Peter Balogh

      I can see those guys playing radioman, LOL

      Reply
  5. Dave @ Mud Ball Golf Blog

    I was lucky enough to follow Tom Watson round Turnberry this year on the final day of The Open. The thing that really struck me was the consistency of his pre-shot routine – I bet it was within milliseconds for each swing on each hole! He had a different one for full shots and putts and a different one for chips and short game. But take one of those routines and it was identical all day. Brisk – quick even. But identical.
    I think that is the important thing – keep to a set pattern and copy someone like Tom Watson – brief and to the point. And as you say – start it as soon as you can so when it’s your turn… off you go.
    Regards,
    Dave

    Reply
  6. Shakey Focus Lou

    I may suck, but at least I’m fast, so if I do hit a worm burner off the tee, I won’t slow anybody down. Just get up and hit. Question: is it considered bad form if you are taking practice swings and getting ready when your others in the group are hitting? My guess it’ll depend upon if you are right next to them or 40 yards away.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      It’s bad only if the dweebs you are playing with have a problem.

      Reply

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