START HERE

Step 1, Getting Started. Complete this section at home before going to the course.

How to Do This Practice +

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

  1. Download the 5 step pre shot routine PDF
  2. Read it in full at least one time before writing out your routine in Step 1
  3. If you have more time, read it again to fully understand the 5 key elements that create a solid pre shot routine

 

Step 1. Finding Your Routine at Home +

Write it Down!

Doing this step at home, or away from the golf course is recommended. Your mind is clear and you can think logically.

  1. Grab a piece of paper and pen.
  2. Think about your game and what you do in your pre shot routine.
  3. To the best of your ability, write a step-by-step list of what you do in your pre shot routine currently.
    • Be as descriptive as possible
  4. After you wrote out your routine, ask yourself...
    • Does your routine currently implement all 5 aspects?
    • What could you add or take away from your routine?

Section 2, On Practice Range/Facility

Step 2. Implementing the 5 Key Pre Shot Routine Elements During Practice +

5-Step Pre Shot Routine Instructions

Where to work on step 2 on the practice area at the course

Everyone has a different pre shot routine. Follow the 5 step process to create a solid pre shot routine today. You don't need to follow exactly what I do in the example, make it custom to you. Every solid pre shot routine needs to include these 5 elements.

  1. Make sure to follow the steps in order. There is a strategy to it!
    • One common flaw I see with most amateurs is taking practice swings before they have decided, committed and visualized the shot they are going to hit. The practice swing should be focused on creating feel for the shot you are about to hit, therefore you need to commit and visualize first before you can practice the feel in the practice swings!
  2.  If you haven't already done so - download the Mental Game Scorecard here to grade yourself on the quality of each shot. This is a great tool to help you analyze your routine and find how committed you are to that routine

 

Section 3, On Golf Course

Step 3. Testing Your Routine +

WHERE TO WORK ON THIS  playing on the golf course.

Playing on the course is the ultimate test of our game. The first step is writing down a solid routine at home with a clear mind. Step 2 is implementing the 5 aspects when practicing on the range. (Go through your routine before you hit each shot on the range). Step 3, after you find a good routine (process) for your pre shot routine that includes these 5 elements, go play 9 holes on the course and test it out. After each shot ask yourself....

  1. Was I 100% committed to my routine
  2. Did I skip over any step or add anything extra?
    1. If so, what was it? Did help or hurt your ability to be comfortable and confident when swinging the club?
      1. If so, write down the notes from question #2 immediately after the shot.
  3. Use the Mental Game Scorecard to grade yourself on each shot

SELF EVALUATION
It is important for you to be completely honest with yourself after each shot. The more open and honest you are, the more benefit you will get.

Section 4, Feedback & Tips From the Coach

After the Round +

WHERE TO DO THIS off the golf course when you can think clearly

How did it go on the course? Don't worry if you were a little scattered brained and confused when trying to go through your routine on the course, it was your first time! Becoming a great player takes time and practice. Problem is, we all want instant results and improvement. I want to lose 20 pounds, I ate healthy today, worked out and stayed the same weight - WTF?!

STICK TO THE PROCESS, RESULTS WILL FOLLOW

Post round, ask yourself these questions to gather feedback from your test.

  1. What was my Mental Game Scorecard total score?
  2. What did I like from the routine? Here are some examples...
    • I felt like I finally had a process on how to evaluate each shot and made better club/ shot selections.
    • Visualizing before my practice swings really helped me create the feel I needed before hitting each shot.
    • Holding myself accountable by using the mental game scorecard really helped me go through each step of the routine process and be aware of what I did well and what could be improved.
      • Remember these good aspects and write them down in your golf journal or notebook! We want to remember the good things , feelings we have when playing and practicing.
  3. What did I not like? See my examples below, and the how to work on each issue.
    • I felt like I was getting confused and forgot steps
      • This is very common, I still deal with it.  When I played in the PGA Championship, I had to back off and restart multiple times. This means you need more practice going through the routine. Repetitions of your routine is key to making changes and eventually become instinctual just like any other thing in life. Go to the range and go through your routine before each shot! It will get better with time, I promise!
      • RESTART if you are not 100% committed, back away and start over from step 1 of the routine. I would advise working on this when you are playing alone. We do not want to slow up play. Just do the best you can in whatever playing situation you are in. If you back off way too much, then you might want to just go back to the range and go through your routine over and over until you feel comfortable.
    • Had to start over too many times and felt like it was causing slow play or distraction... resulting in worse shots
      • THE FIX same as the previous example, you need more reps to get comfortable. Try to identify what step in the routine was slowing you down or did not feel natural. Is there a different way we can go about this step of the routine? Go back to the range and try different ways of executing that step.
        • Example, "I can't visualize the shot.. Am I supposed to actually see the ball flying, me swinging and hitting?"
          • THE FIX visualizing is not what most people think. I do NOT actually see something, I describe the shot with words in my head (I am going to start it at the right side of the tree behind green, its going to curve left and land safely to the right of the flag. If I don't make the shot, I want it to stay to the right of the hole) Read more about sports visualization here
    • I thought too much about the shot and I made it too complicated.
      • THE FIX pre shot routine is not designed to be long. At first, it may feel like you are taking forever because it is different than what you are used to. Reason why...
        1. Your routine is not fluid yet. As you practice and get better at your routine it will flow naturally, taking less time. All great players have a nice flow to their routine just like their golf swings.
        2. You are still refining your routine. For example, I visualize in step 2, after I decide my shot/club selection, but then also visualize in step 4 before walking into the shot. You may want to visualize twice like me, or you may feel more comfortable just doing it in step 2. As long as you do it before the practice swing, that is good enough for me!
      • Read through your notes from the round and write down the following.
        • When you felt comfortable executed the routine well, was their a common feeling or thoughts that happened regularly?
        • When you felt confused, uncomfortable/scatter brained, was there a common thought or feeling that happened regularly?
        • Go through your answers above.
          • Take out what you notice is commonly creatine negative feelings
          • Focus on the thoughts and feelings that made you comfortable
Helpful Tips from the Coach +

COMMON PLAYER ISSUES

  1. WRITE IT DOWN when it says write it down - your brain will fully process it and you will learn faster!
  2. STAY PATIENT most likely, you are not going to find your best routine during practice. Identify the best routine in practice and continue to go through that routine as many times as you can before going testing it on the course
  3. EVERY SHOT during practice - on the range, short game area and putting green should include a pre shot routine before you hit a ball. How often do you go through your routine during practice? How often do you go through a routine when playing on the course? (hopefully you answered every time on the course) So you should practice how you play!

Downloads

  • Pre Shot Routine
    Pre Shot Routine

    Printable PDF of the 5-step pre shot routine checklist. It would be smart to take it to the course with you when practicing!

JJ Wood, PGA

Founder of Golf Performance Group, PGA Director of Instruction,  NCAA High Performance Coach and PGA Tour Playing Experience. JJ Wood has dedicated his career to researching best game improvement strategies to help all golfers practice more efficiently for faster results.

JJ Wood, PGA Director of Instruction

coach and training programs have been featured on local, regional and national media outlets