Yankee great Yogi Berra once said that 90% of baseball is half mental. Well he may have actually been talking about golf. I always preach to my students to practice with a purpose. When on the range, have a routine. Don’t just beat balls till your hands are numb. Aim at a target so you can judge your results.
You also need to take this mental thought to the course. Every player, regardless of handicap or ability, should have a repeatable, simple, pre-shot routine. Keep in mind that it should also be timely. You may find that your weekly foursome will no longer want to play with you if they spend half the day watching you waggle.
I’ll explain what I do, and you are more than welcome to take from it what you like or modify it in any way. But the whole point is to calm my nerves and address the ball with confidence. Don’t ever get over the ball and pull the trigger if you have no clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish.
First thing is obvious, get your yardage. Shoot the number with your laser, look at your gps, walk it off etc. I begin this process while my playing partner(s) is playing their shot of course. No reason to wait unless you are in direct line of their shot. I then assess my lie and choose a club based on the lie, number, and wind. A few steps behind the ball are where I take a practice swing, maybe two. That’s it. Anything more is wasted motion. Take more than 2 practice swings and I’m leaving you in the fairway. And these aren’t full speed swings. I am just getting the motion down of a nice, smooth flowing swing; maybe 60%. As I do this I am picturing the shot in mind; the trajectory, the solid contact, and thinking of maintaining my balance.
I then walk up, and as I do I place my hands on the club and take my grip. I address the ball, set my feet, and check my ball position and balance. One look at the target, maybe one waggle……and I let it fly. I do pretty much the same routine on the green.
If you ever get over the ball and say to yourself, “where am I aimed” or “this is the wrong club” and don’t back off……forget it. That shot has no hope and you haven’t even swung yet. Now I’m don’t want to be advocate of slow play, so just back off, take a deep breath, and shake it off.
Take a step or two from this piece that you like and try it. I guarantee you will hit more quality shots throughout your round and roll in a few more putts.
Enjoy the game, and each other-
Written by Seth Zipay, Published by Craig Walton – GolfHQ.com