When you hear a great golfer talk about their game one of the words you always hear is focus. They were thinking through the shot. They’ll say:
- I visualized what I wanted to do
- I went through my normal pre-shot routine
- I focused on the shot
Today, we will look at two aspects of this, thinking through the shot and playing smart golf.
Thinking Through the Shot
When you step up to a shot, what is going through your head?
- Ignore the water
- Don’t hit it in that bunker
- Don’t over swing
- Keep your head down
Sounds a lot different doesn’t it? Developing a pre-shot routine that you use before every shot keeps you focused on the task at hand. If you watch much golf, you will see that every golfer goes through a consistent set to steps before they step up to address the ball. This is true for their tee shots, their fairway shots, their hazard shots and their putts. If they are interrupted, they step back, reset and begin the routine all over again.
How many times have you been on the tee and you don’t feel right or you get distracted. Rarely do we back off the tee. We all do the same thing, hit it anyway. It is no surprise our results are mixed, more often than not on the negative side (my friends might tell you all my shots are with mixed results, focused or not).
Over time I have tried to develop the same routine for tee shots and fairway shots:
- Take an easy swing or two to loosen up the back and get a feel for the lie
- Stand behind the ball and think through what I’m trying to do
- Identify my point of aim (a tree top, building, or some other landmark)
- Address the ball and check my alignment against my point of aim
- Take my swing
This helps me focus on the shot at hand and not worry about a million other things. On the green, I do something similar and repeat that routine every time I putt.
For a long time, when I would walk up to a shot, I would simply grab the club that would get me the longest distance down the fairway: driver, three wood, five iron, etc. I didn’t stop to think about the shot after that one.
As I progressed in my golf game, I became pretty good at understanding my iron distances, how far I hit each one and the gap between them. I also recognized where my strengths, weaknesses and comfort zones were. I began to realize I was much more confident and consistent if I was 110 to 150 yards from the pin then if I was 70 to 90 yards. That started to affect my club selection. I’m not a big hitter, so if I’m 250 yards out I’m not going to power a 3 wood on the green unless I’ve got a great lie and I catch all of it (and maybe some roll). I am better off hitting a mid-iron to my comfort zone distance and then a short iron on approach. I will consistently be closer to the hole than taking the other approach.
Now, having said all that, do I occasionally grab the three wood and go for it? Or will my buddy hit a driver ‘off the deck’ when he really shouldn’t? Hell yea! Because we are out there to have a good time. When you pull those off you feel like a million dollars! But more often than not, you know how that works out.
Just taking some simple steps like visualizing your shot and having a consistent pre-shot routine can have a visible effect on your game. Think a bit more strategically about the shot you are about to hit and the one to follow. You might be surprised at the results.
Do you have a pre-shot routine you always follow? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below. Be sure to swing by our store and auction pages before you leave. Pick up some training aids to help with that course alignment, or a GPS or other golf electronics to help with your yardage!