Call Your Shots

Jason Carbone
Director of Instruction
Jim McLean Golf School
Goodyear, AZ

More Information

A few years ago, I was watching a “Playing Lesson with the Pros” on The Golf Channel, and they had John Cook as the professional. On each shot, John would talk through the shot at hand, explain his decision and shot he chose, and then execute his vision. It went something like, “I’ve got 143 yards, with a right to left wind, and the pin just over a ridge. I’m going to take an 8 iron and start it at the pin with about 10 yards of cut and let the wind hit it, and hold its line.”

After talking through each shot for the first five holes, he was 5 under par. He walked off the fifth green, looked into the camera, and said, “Maybe I should start playing like this all the time.” I just wish they would air that episode over and over again as a reminder of what a perfect preshot routine should look and sound like.

The mental portion of a preshot routine is really simple. Think of John Cook or think of playing pool, give yourself clear directions, and go.  When you’re playing pool, you often need to “call your shot” for it to count. That is exactly what we need to do to focus correctly before each shot. Tell yourself the distance you want the ball to fly, what trajectory and shot shape you want, and what is your starting and ending target (they’ll be different unless we’re hitting it perfectly straight). “I’m going to carry this 123 with a normal fade that starts at the tree through the middle of the green and cuts to the pin”.  Simple, concise, focused directions to put your mind in a place to execute a great shot.

Don’t worry about concentrating, don’t worry about focusing, and don’t hit careless shots. Focus your thoughts and zone in for the 10-15 seconds before each shot, and see your rounds become a lot more enjoyable.

Jason Carbone is the Director of Instruction at the Jim McLean Golf School located at The Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa in Goodyear, Arizona. He is one of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Instructors and Golf Digest’s Top 20 under 40 instructors. You can reach Jason by calling 623.535.5600.