How to Enhance your Pre-Shot Routine with an Intermediate Target

By Dr. Richard Coop

The Importance of an Intermediate Target

One of the most important part of a pre-shot routine is finding an intermediate target. You want to be able to aim over a spot that is about a foot or foot and a half in front of the ball rather than try to line up with something that is 250 yards down the fairway. We find that you must start from behind the ball.

Here Kim is going to look down the line and use binocular vision because she has both eyes working for her. When she finds a spot she has to be sure and when she gets on astride of the ball she no longer has binocular vision, she only has about 30 percent of her effective vision because she is side-on to the ball. She has to learn to trust that the spot which she chooses when she is behind the ball is directly in line.

Sometimes it takes players two or three times to come back and find their spot and get astride the ball and confirm that spot because depending on which eye is dominant they see it left or right as opposed to what they saw behind the ball. It is very important to learn to trust the spot that you saw behind the ball and to hit it over that spot.

Play Your Spot, Not the Hazards

One of the things that a lot of players are doing now if there is a lot of trouble to the left or the right, where there might be water out of bounds on the left and a little bit of trouble on the right, their last look is not at the landing area but rather at the intermediate target. Then all they do is start their ball over the intermediate target. This frees their swing up, it keeps them from guiding the ball because the trouble is out there and it makes it nice and easy to just keep the ball started over the intermediate target.

If you are playing a course that has a lot of blind driving holes, your last look can be at your intermediate target because you can not see your landing area anyway. If you are playing holes where the sun is in your eyes towards the end of the day, you do not want to look at your target because you get blinded by the sun, so make your last look at the intermediate target.

Use Your Peripheral Vision

Now there are some players than once they get their clubface square to the ball they just drop their intermediate target so that it no longer exists. They then just go back and hit the ball. Other players keep the intermediate target in mind all the way through the shot and try to swing their club over the intermediate target. This is a personal preference and something you can choose to do whichever way you want to. The important thing is to have the intermediate target in your peripheral vision so that you do not have to get your head and shoulders turned to see the intermediate target. You should see it out of the corner of your eye without moving your head. The taller you are the further out you can go.

Practice and See the Results

Most courses you play will have something that you can use to line up on without having to get too far out in front of the ball itself. Remember, choosing an intermediate target takes skill. It looks different when you stand astride the ball as opposed to when you are behind the ball and you need to learn to trust that the target is where it looks like from behind the ball. Just hit the ball over your intermediate target and it will eventually get to your primary target and you will shoot better scores.

Category: Pre-Shot Routine

About the Instructor

Dr. Richard Coop
Dr. Richard Coop
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Education
CB 3500 Peabody Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500
Dr. Richard Coop is a mental instructor to countless PGA Tour professionals, including Payne Stewart, Ben Crenshaw, Mark O'Meara, and Nick Faldo. He is also the author of The New Golf Mind and Mind Over Golf.