Golf Pre Shot Routine



Matthew McPhillips, PGA Head Golf Pro, Stratton Mountain Country Club, Stratton, Vermont

A pre-shot routine is the routine you perform before every shot. It should be consistent. As part of your pre-shot routine, always pick a target within several feet that is on a direct line to the ultimate target. Focus on a target a short distance away in order to aim the club face more accurately at address. It is also better to plan your aim while looking down the line to the target. Picking an intermediate target is sort of like spot bowling or picking a spot on the lane, rather than looking at the head pin.



Shawn Baker, PGA Director of Golf, the Greens at Half Hollow, Melville, New York

A pre-shot routine is every bit as important when you putt as when you play a full shot. A good routine looks like this:

  1. Determine your line.
  2. Stand to the side of the ball, taking a few practice strokes while looking at the hole and trying to match your stroke to the distance.
  3. Look down the line of the putt at the speed you expect the ball to roll (just like the “tracking” you see when watching the pros on TV). Do this three times.
  4. Make a good stroke.



Dana Bates, LPGA Teaching Pro, Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarsdale, New York

When setting up to the golf ball, start by placing the bottom edge of your club flush to the ground. Then assume your stance. Adjust your stance as well as your posture with respect to the golf club and ball. Most golfers assume their stance first and then place the club head behind the ball. This results in the “toe” of the club being up, meaning the only part of the club face that can solidly hit the ball is the inside, or heel. We only have a couple of inches (5–7.5 centmeters) of club face to hit the ball with. Don’t make it any smaller than it already is!



Dick Capasso, PGA Teaching Pro, Augusta, Georgia

Many players get confused about where to play the ball in their stance for shots off the turf. We have all heard conflicting advice on this subject. Each shot is a new experience and should be treated as such. The best place to place your ball is in the way of your swing. Try taking a few practice swings and pay attention to where the club nips the turf. That spot is where the ball should be played for that particular stroke.



Jay Morelli, Director of the Original Golf School, Mount Snow, Vermont

One major way to improve is to be aware of the target. When we watch great players, we notice that they take great care in setting up to the ball. After they set up, we also see them look up at the target several times. It is part of their routine. They will always take the same number of looks. This is the same as a basketball player looking at the hoop at the free throw line. Most recreational golfers stare at the ball and get “ball bound,” with little or no awareness of where they are trying to hit the ball. Try to build some looks into your pre-shot routine. It’s a surefire way to move your game up a level.



Barry Reynolds, PGA Teaching Pro, the Original Golf School, Mount Snow, Vermont

Start the season by promising yourself that you’ll have only these two thoughts:

  1. A pre-swing thought.
  2. An in-swing thought.

Bad golf shots will always be a result of too much analysis. We have often heard that we might get paralysis from analysis. Your pre-shot thought could be an idea about alignment, posture, or grip pressure. Your in-swing thought might focus on swing path, tempo, or a good shoulder turn. Keeping it simple is the goal.



John Schob, PGA Director of Golf, the Huntington Crescent Club, Huntington, New York

Where the ball is positioned in your stance is crucial to solid contact. The best way to establish the center of your stance is to stand opposite the ball with your feet together. Take a small step to the left and a small step to the right and the ball will be dead center in your stance. You can change the ball position by taking a larger step in one direction than the other. For right-handed players, a small step with the left foot and a larger step with the right will position the ball left center in the stance, which is where you would like it with a driver.



Ron Johnson, PGA Teaching Pro, Somerset, New Jersey

How far away you stand from the ball at address is an important factor in making solid contact. To achieve the correct distance, hold the club waist-high, with your upper arms touching your chest. Tilt from the hips and stick out your tailbone, letting the club head sole rest on the ground. That is the correct distance. With a longer club, you will naturally be farther away than with a shorter one. Being the correct distance is the only way you can achieve proper balance. (If you tend to lose your balance and fall forward at the end of your swing, you are definitely standing too far from the ball.)



Shawn Baker, PGA Director of Golf, the Greens at Half Hollow, Melville, New York

You feel the panic setting in. Your hands get clammy, and your knees shake. Your throat goes dry, and you feel as if you’re going to throw up. Golf is the ultimate pressure-situation sport, and it pays to remember the first (and only) rule for relaxing: Slow down and concentrate on your breathing. Take a few deep breaths as you prepare for that big shot.


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