Golf Pre-Shot Routine Guide

Golf is a sport that requires intense determination and dedication. You must bring your life into a discipline to make it as a successful golf player. If not, at least, a low handicapper.

A good golf pre-shot routine is a huge part of the process. It may seem very unlikely to many of you, but the overall mental and physical condition of a player has a huge impact on how he/she will play.

That’s why we’ve created this golf pre-shot guide for both beginners and seasoned players.

However, before we dive deep into the routine, you should know why a pre-shot routine is so important.

Why a Pre-Shot Routine Matters

There are 3 phases to a golf shot that you face every shot you attempt during your round.

You have the before, the during, and the after and each is very important to your overall success of the golf shot and its outcome.

Today we will start off discussing the before, which essentially means your pre-shot routine and what you do prior to hitting the golf shot. In a future article we can discuss the during and the after parts of handling a golf shot.

It’s important to realize that your pre-shot routine, what you do leading up to the golf shot, has a huge impact on how well you execute the golf shot.

The pre-shot routine gives you a plan, confidence, and feel that will assist you in making the proper swing or stroke on the ball and getting the result you expected.

Without this plan, it’s unlikely your desired result will occur.

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Golf Pre Shot Routine Tips for Success

Starting off, you need to have the right thoughts in your head before a shot because what you think about before your swing or stroke directly affects this swing or stroke. For example, I bet you’ve stood over a ball with water 10 yards in front of it and thought about hitting it into the water. Then you attempt the shot and hit it into the water. Coincidence?

To strike the ball well to your intended target requires the golf-swing to be fluid and in sync. Muscle tension, anxiety, and fear can all disrupt this fluidity in the golf swing and cause loss of control also considered “over control” where you are trying to force the motion rather than let it happen naturally.

To achieve this fluidity and natural rhythm you must have consciously executed this shot in your mind prior to doing it. The greatest golfers in the world are visionaries and have creative minds that see shots and then actually do them.

Tiger Woods is one example of someone who envisioned shots to miraculously pull off and then would do it. He got his conscious mind in sync with the natural fluidity of the golf swing, not letting any doubt or fear creep into his head.

Once you’ve envisioned the perfect shot you want to hit, you must clear all thoughts from your head prior to taking the shot.

This is one reason why so many golfers find themselves hitting the ball great on the golf range and then struggling to translate it over to the actual golf course. On the range, they are in rhythm and swinging without thinking.

They’ve shut the mind off from putting negative thoughts in their head. Out on the course, pressure, fear, anxiety, consequences, etc. creep into their mind and interfere with their natural ability to hit good golf shots.

If you’re going to be a consistent golfer, you have to develop a solid pre-shot routine. Let’s get into the “How To” phase of this article now shall we?

Book: Golf Mental Blueprint Guide for Beginners

How to Perfect the Pre-Shot Routine

To come up with the perfect golf pre-shot routine, you need to start small. You need to make every visit to the course a learning journey. You need to admit that there are better players than you and there always will be.

Your task is to perform your best without any physical or mental obstructions. When you’re performing at your best, you automatically become the best player.

What we can do is give you a few points about where to start your journey and where to end it. If you can manage to practice what we teach you carefully, you’ll notice a significant boost in your overall performance.

Step 1: The Trigger

Before you even approach your shot, you need a trigger to get into your best golfer mindset. Your job doesn’t start when you get into a stance. Rather, it starts the moment you enter the course.

A good trigger for many players is the walk to the tee. Or, the ride in the cart. When you’re walking, you can calm yourself with the fantastic surroundings. You can take a look over the course to pinpoint the tee, the fairway, the green, the roughs, and the bunkers.

This way, you can generate an imaginary map in your mind. In your mind, you can navigate through your own map. This process will refine your instincts. You’ll become at measure distances, locating rough, and coordinate your shots with your mind.

Step 2: The Practice Swings

As your trigger gets activated, you should already be in a competitive mindset. However, putting your energy to the test before you go for the ultimate score is a great idea.

And you can achieve it through practice swings! As obvious as it may sound, you’ll be amazed to know how effective of a golf pre-shot routine it is!

You need to choose a club, preferably all of them one after another. You need to get into a stance.

If you’re not warmed up yet, practice swings are a great way to warm up your muscles and make you ready for the action.

After you’re ready, pick an imaginary target and hit your imaginary ball. Using the map you created in your mind, you should able to see where your ball lands. If all of these sounds too spiritual for your liking, we can’t blame you.

We know it all sounds so cliché. But trying it out won’t hurt you, will it? If something, it will help you get better aligned with your mind.

After a few practice swings, change the club. If you started with a driver, move along to a fairway wood or an iron. Then work your way into the wedges and putters.

Once you think you’re ready to take things to the next level, move forward.

Step 3: The Thinking Phase

When you arrive at your ball, you’ll begin what’s known as the thinking phase or conscious phase. You’ll select your intended target, which type of shot you want to hit (draw, fade, high, low, etc.) as well as analyze the situation you are in.

You’ll analyze how strong the wind is, how good is your lie, what are the risks and rewards, where are good places to miss, and where are bad places to miss as well as other factors.

When you get done analyzing in the thinking phase, you should have clear intentions as to how you’ll approach this golf shot. Visualize that perfect golf shot you are going to strike.

Step 4: The Clear Your Mind Phase

As you approach your golf ball for the real shot after taking practice reps, you begin accessing the second phase of your mind. In this phase, your subconscious mind starts trying to take over and play trust games with you.

How well do you trust your ability to hit a good shot? What if you shank it? What if you top it?

Your subconscious mind starts interfering with your positive confident thoughts warning you of the bad outcomes that could occur if you fail.

The key in this phase is to shut your mind off after visualizing your perfect golf shot you are going to hit. Don’t let these thoughts creep into your head.

It’s easier said than done, but if you can practice shutting down your thinking as you step up to the ball for the real deal, you’ll find that your swing stays natural and fluid and you’ll hit great golf shots as envisioned.

You’ve already determined the target and shot type to hit. There is no need to further think when you step up to actually strike the golf ball. Shut off your mind. Win the mind game.

To help you shut off additional thoughts, focus strictly on the mental image of the perfect golf shot you are going to play.

Step 5: Pick Your Target

This will look as obvious as it gets to most of you. But do you know that the majority of beginners don’t know how to pick a golf target?

When taking your shots, you need to focus on two different targets. One is your final long-range target while the other one is an intermediary target.

By long-range target, we don’t mean the hole or the flag. Rather, it should be something that you can actually reach. Maybe a tree 200 yards away. Similarly, you need to progressively change your target every time you take a shot.

As for the intermediary target, it’s going to be more or less 8 inches from the ball. This would be in line with your final target. This imaginary target and the line between two targets will help you align your shots better.

You can try it to see whether it works or not by yourself!

Step 6: Addressing the Ball

Take a deep breath when you’re behind the ball. Address the ball. Make your club face as square as visually possible. Think of the imaginary swings you took in your practice session and put them to the test.

Remember, when you’re swinging the club, your mind should be absolutely empty. Many rookie players suffer from stage fright. They think about would other players at the course think if they mishit or send the ball too much left or right.

These kinds of stresses take a toll on your swing as well. It tenses up the muscles and hampers the natural flow of the club swing.

When you’re behind the ball, let go of every thought. And hit the ball with everything you’ve got.

Step 7: Don’t Overthink the Outcome

Not accepting the outcome of your shots is a surefire way to send your entire golf pre-shot routine to waste. If you’re too conscious about what happened yesterday, how can you expect your tomorrow to be better?

No matter what the outcome of your game was, learn to accept it and move on to the next target. No one is born Tiger Woods. They become their own player over time. You need to allow yourself the time to improve your skills.

When you’re too busy with what happened in your previous game, it will surely impact your next pre-shot routine. But pre-shot routines are all about making you mentally ready for what’s coming ahead.

Making a Separate Short Game Routine Maybe Fruitful

In this post, we’ve included your entire game into one routine. However, if you want even better and concentrated results, you should come up with a short game routine separately.

By short game, we mean your chipping, putting, and pitching shots. These shots require even more precision on your end. You can only achieve the highest level of precision by practicing over and over again.

So, do one golf pre-shot routine for your long game i.e. with drivers, fairway woods, irons, and hybrids.

Do another short game routine with wedges and putters.

You can switch it up based on where your weaknesses lie. If your long game needs work, focus more on what we’ve discussed today.

And if you think you’re lacking in the short game, take what you know and apply it to your 2nd routine. A few activities may change for the short game golf pre-shot routine, but the overall concept remains the same.

Best eBook: Download Your Copy of The Golf Mental Game Guide

Your Challenge & Homework

Next time you are playing a round of golf, record how many times you successfully go through your routine and try to beat this every round until you’ve built a habit of doing it every golf shot.

Try to maintain a quiet mind, trust your ability, and focus on the perfect outcome of the shot at hand. When you begin thinking about score, what can go wrong, etc. your no longer focused on the shot at hand and bad results start to occur.

This is one reason why I don’t keep score until the turn after 9 holes or at the end of the round when I’ve played all 18. I go back and calculate hole by hole what my score was. It helps me keep score out of my mind during my rounds.

Try out these tips and let me know below in the comments how you are doing!

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