Developing a Great Golf Pre-shot Routine

Developing a Great Golf Pre-shot Routine

G’day. Consistency is an aspect of golf that most golfers suffer from, myself included in my early days.I want to share with you a key factor that turned it all around for not only myself, but has also been a key aspect in my students’ games as well. I am talking of course about the importance of developing a great pre-shot routine for golf.

By understanding the Concentration Process, you will not only play faster, better more focused golf, but will have a greater understanding of how the mind works on the golf course. Golf consistency will be a thing of the past.

You may be a complete golf beginner or a weekend warrior golfer, or perhaps someone who really wants to take their golf to the next level. Whatever level of golfer you are, by applying this to your golf will certainly improve your play.
If professional golfers around the globe use this process, then surely it is something to take note of. You don’t have to be a pro golfer to benefit from this process either.

The Pre-Shot routine should be implemented on an equal basis for every shot, whether it be a putt, a drive or fairway shot, whether it be your first shot of the round or the last, whether you are putting for an eagle or double bogie.

This process begins with switching on about 40 yards before you reach your ball and switching off after phase 3. The time involved should take roughly 2 minutes from the time we switch on to the time we switch off. During a round of golf, we won’t be able to concentrate for the full 4 hours or so we need to learn how to switch on and off.

Phase 1 – The Pre-Shot Phase

In this phase we have three tasks;

  1. Assessment of the conditions for the up-coming shot. This would include assessing factors such as distance, lie, wind, pin position, risk and reward etc.
  2. Planning the shot – this where we need to make a decision about what type of shot your want to play, ball flight, club to use or speed of swing, length of swing you will need for that shot.
  3. Practice swing for that shot. It is so important that your practice swing matches the swing you want to play in terms of swing length, speed and tempo. Remember your practice swing is a direct representation of the shot you want to play. It is also very beneficial to include visualizing the ball flight and adding a positive statement about the intended shot, such as “I confidently putt the ball in the back of the hole.”

Before moving onto the next phase, you must be fully committed to the shot, if you have any doubts back off and start phase 1 again.

Phase 2 – The in Shot Phase

This is the phase where we execute the plan we have made in the proceeding phase. After fully committing to the shot, we walk into the ball, set and AIM the club first, ALIGN the body next and then focus on the TARGET.

(From when I first take a step in toward the ball, it only takes between 12 – 13 secs before I pull the trigger. Don’t stand over the ball and start thinking too much. This is where you will second-guess yourself or doubt will creep in, then you are doomed. Remember the target doesn’t move – so 1 or 2 looks will be enough)

Up until now this has all been a conscious process. After this point it all becomes sub-conscious. We now pull the trigger and hit the shot.

Phase 3 – The Post Shot Phase

This all starts with the follow through, watching the ball flight or roll until it comes to REST. We now LOOK and REACT. If it is a positive outcome, enjoy the shot and pat yourself on the back or say something like great shot/well done.

If it is a negative outcome, then we need to analyze the shot whether it was the plan or execution that failed. If it was the plan, then rethink how we can make it better next time, such as did we try playing a shot that we haven’t practiced before or need more practice with?

If it was the execution – then make a practice swing how it should have been. So often I see players immediately make a practice swing after the shot of what they did wrong – reinforcing the mistake. Make a correct swing and reinforce that with a positive statement such as, “that’s better, that’s what I was looking for.”

Put the club away in the bag and switch off. I use the ‘Tiger 2 Yard Rule’ here. After walking 2 yards away from the spot, we need to forget it now. We cannot change the past. We need to deal with it emotionally too, let go of any anger or frustration here and now. Don’t hold onto it until your next shot – otherwise that will be doomed too.

Phase 4 – The Walk

After switching off from the previous shot and before switching on again in phase 1 for the next shot, you need to relax and enjoy the walk. This is a time to chat with your mates, not whilst standing over the ball trying to play your shot. Be sure to use this time to rehydrate and eat. Remember there is a lot of down time in between shot that should be enjoyed regardless of your score.

By adopting this process into your game, it will bridge the gap between practice and play, will allow you to stay more focused on your shot, plan your shot better and allow you to play better golf more consistently.

If you would like to find out more on developing a great pre-shot routine or how Jim can personally help you with your game, then go to

I would be interested in hearing about your thoughts or experiences on this matter, or if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Goof Golfing.

Jim Kennedy

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