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Pre-shot routine: What amateurs can learn from watching professionals on TV

Rob Dugan
Special to the Tribune
A golfer runs through her pre-shot routine at the Incline Village Mountain Course as part of its Get Golf Ready class series.
Provided / IVGID

Before you step up and hit a golf ball, do you have a pre-shot routine? Do you repeat it religiously?

That golf ball is just going to sit there and sit there until you address it and execute a shot. But since golf is full of pressure situations — whether that’s because you’re playing in a friendly tournament or just find yourself with a challenging lie — having a routine that will take your mind off the tension and potential anxiety and let you focus on your swing in the moment is invaluable.

Watch any tour professional going through his or her pre-shot routine. The pre-shot routine never changes from swing to swing, day to day or year to year. It will always be simple and consistent.

Some will tell you that a good pre-shot routine involves selection of a club, checking the wind, etc. — and that is not wrong. However, what I define as a pre-shot routine takes place after making those other decisions and it is time to execute the shot.

A typical pre-shot routine:

It starts behind the ball, looking down the line of play to get a visual for the shot. Then stand parallel to the line of play, still well behind the ball and make 1 to 3 practice swings, looking to feel a swing that you want to make for that shot.

Now move behind the ball with arms hanging low and try to get as loose and relaxed as possible.

Look down the line of play and bring the line of play in, closer to the ball (about 3 feet).

Staring at the spot 3 feet in front of the ball, approach the ball while still staring at that spot until you get your feet parallel to the spot and the line of play.

Breath in, breath out, swing, balanced finish.

Study the professionals the next time you’re watching a golf tournament on TV. Watch for their pre-shot routine and re-evaluate yours. Find a style that fits your game and practice it on the range, then rely on it when you’re on the course to calm your mind and add consistency to your game.

This is one area where studying the pros will help you play like a champion!

Rob Dugan, PGA, is the teaching professional at the Incline Village Golf Courses.


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