Golf Tips - Pre-Shot Routine

By Joe Sullivan

"Huh?" I know. I don't want to talk about it, either. Still, I feel obligated to share my thoughts. Some people feel that they need to do a certain kind of routine to hit the ball better. Some people feel that they can find in a book or magazine what makes them get ready, set, and in a good frame of mind to hit the shot. Whoa!

Oh, boy, I don't even know where to start with this issue. Has anyone ever seen two pre-shot routines that are the same? Nor have I. (I should probably stop right now.) The only thing that matters in the pre-shot routine is that you aim the clubface and the ball at the target. Whatever else you do is totally up to you.

It doesn't matter if you stand on your head for a couple of seconds, comb your hair and put deodorant on, or smack your ankle with your club a few times. As long as you can do it over and over again, it's as good of a routine as anyone else's. Incidentally, the more unorthodox it looks, the more habitual it probably is.

Have you ever seen Senior Tour player Bruce Summerhays address the ball? How anyone could develop something like that is what's hardest to believe. He bounces the club all over the place for a few seconds before he hits. It's amazing that he doesn't accidentally hit the ball with all of those weird gyrations. How about Bob Tway? He stands behind the ball, grips the club with his left hand, then starts grasping it all over the place with his right hand. You would have thought that his leather wrap grip was unraveling and this was an attempt to keep it adhered. Then there is Wayne Levi. Wayne stands like an absolute rock for about ten seconds before he takes the club back. There is literally no movement whatsoever. He might be breathing, but that's about it. There are certainly no essential waggles that supposedly all good players must have.

What's important to note with all of these great players? routines, however, is that it's something they can do over and over again. Whether it's during a pro-am with a bunch of bean counters, or on the 72nd hole of a major championship, it's always the same thing. It's always something they can fall back on to put themselves in their comfort zone.

Also note how each routine seems so strange that there is almost no way it could have been copied from someone else. I would have to believe that they were just developed instinctively and reinforced over a number of years of playing. As a result, it is not something they have to think about on a shot-to-shot basis. It seems to occur automatically. This, in turn, makes it all the more easy for them to be in a good mindset to hit the shot.

Well, here is an insight into some of my views on pre-shot routine. There is more on this subject, as well as numerous other areas in the swing, in the upcoming book from *

Columns ©1999 Joseph K. Sullivan and GolfLink Inc. All rights reserved.


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