How Important is the Pre-Shot Routine?

Kim Anders
Director of Instruction
John Jacobs Golf Schools and Academies Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, AZ

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One of my students asked me a great question the other day. She has played for many years, and regularly shoots in the high 80’s. She said she felt a little silly asking me such a simple question and then said, “What should I be doing during my pre-shot routine?”

Here’s what she told me her routine consists of – Stand behind the ball to get a feel for what she has to contend with – hazards, OB, how narrow the landing area is, and any other obstacles that may come into play. Approach the ball and make a practice swing, address the ball, and go through her checklist of what she needs to do to make a good swing. After hearing this, I can’t believe she plays as well as she does!

Sound familiar? I now understand why she stands over the ball so long before starting her swing. I have found most people tend to visualize things like: “I see the ball take off low and then skipping 2, no, 3 times on the lake before it runs out of gas and sinks out of site”.

Golf is a pretty tough game, especially if you only see the lakes, bunkers, and other things that run your score up. Odds are real high that if you are concerned with the problems to the left, right, and center, AND you have a feeling you are going to find one of the problems, you probably WILL. Your entire pre-shot routine focused on the trouble and not on anything positive.

Time for a new routine. While standing behind the ball, visualize your normal ball flight, landing safely exactly where you want it. Next, make a good practice swing. It doesn’t have to be a full swing, just a good swing, keeping in mind the one or two swing keys you have been working on.

One last look at your line to pick out a spot a few feet in front of the ball that is on your target line. Move to the ball while taking a deep cleansing breath to relax your body.

Position the club to the ball so it is pointing at your spot/intermediate target.  Leave the club there and position your body to the club. If you have to look at your target, fine, go ahead, but you don’t have to because the routine you just followed has you all set to hit the ball at your target.

Once you have addressed the ball…DON’T THINK! Pull the trigger as soon as you comfortably can, so negative thoughts don’t have time to enter the process. Good thoughts rarely enter your brain while you are standing over the ball. The only thoughts you should have are on the one or two swing thoughts you had for the practice swing.

I know this routine sounds long and drawn out in the beginning, and then rushed in the end, but it really isn’t. It is a routine that will better prepare you to make a good swing, to let the club do the work for you, and to properly execute what you have been working on.

This will get your mind working on the positive, on what you want to do, on where you want to go.

So, how important is having a good routine? The day following our session, she shot a 79 – Six shots better than her previous best!! According to her, the pre-shot routine is more important than the swing itself!

Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at