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Instructional Tip - Develop a Pre-Shot Routine for Consistent Scoring By George Conner
Tom Landers
By Tom Landers
Published on 10/9/2015

Instructional Tip - Develop a Pre-Shot Routine for Consistent Scoring By George Conner
An over looked part of playing great golf, great golf under pressure is having a consistent and solid pre-shot routine.

What is lost is that elite players all have a very consistent routine.  Not only do they do the same actions each time, they also spend the same amount of time performing each action every time.  When the elite player gets away from their normal routine they often struggle.  If you are approaching each shot differently, you are most likely hitting some bad shots when you have the skills to hit better ones. 

A reliable and productive pre-shot routine gives you three benefits:
1. Your routine includes everything that it should and nothing that it shouldn’t.  It will act as a checklist both for your physical and mental preparations.  Having a routine will allow you to always be sure that you are ready to hit the shot at hand and are prepared.

2. When your routine is a habit, it will serve as a security blanket when the pressure is on.  Rather than being concerned about the consequences of the upcoming shot once the routine starts, it will flow and you will move through the steps without extra time to worry, dream or otherwise get distracted.

3. Having a routine will not allow you to “do more” when the upcoming shot is perceived to be more important.

The third reason that you should have a routine could be the most important when it comes to handling pressure.  Far too often I see players change their routine under pressure for the right reasons with the wrong results.  An example of this would when you have a 12-foot birdie putt to move up the leaderboard, or break your personal best score or maybe even to win the backside press.  All of a sudden, you start adding things to what was your routine.  You look at the putt from angles you normally don’t.  You take more practice strokes.  Why do you do these extras?  Because you think you should. The problem with this break in the routine is that you are taking in more data points than you know what to do with.  If you never look at a putt from behind the hole but did on this putt, what should you see?  How will you use the added data?  Adding this extra data can more easily confuse you than help you.

Another way I see players break their routine is by going through the steps but speeding everything up.  This is common under pressure.  The consistent timing of the routine is in some ways as important as the steps involved.  When the timing of the routine is consistent, it flows nicely from one step to the next and you start the stroke or the swing seemingly sub-consciously.

Take the time to develop a routine that:
a. Encompasses all the steps that should be included
b. Does not leave room for wildcard steps
c. Becomes a habit

Your scores AND your blood pressure will be
lower as a result.