Simplify Your Pre Shot Routine

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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A pre shot routine consists of all the necessary steps needed to perform a well executed golf shot. A routine should consist of both ball data and swing data. It should give your confidence, allow you to relax, give you a high level of concentration, and provide you with the correct setup for the shot at hand.

1)  Ball Data. 
According to the rules of golf, striking the wrong ball comes with a 2 shot penalty. Your first step should always be to identify your ball.  From here figure out how the ball is setting for this will determine the level of aggressiveness. Next, figure your yardage, keeping in mind any wind and its intensity. Finally, select your club.

2)  Swing data.  Ideally you want to keep the swing thoughts to a minimum.  Always start this part of your routine from behind the ball looking at the target. Rehearse a swing or two from behind the ball. Make sure to grip your golf club from behind the ball. Establish a target line. Many Tour pros pick out an intermediate target (a spot 1 to 3 feet in front of the ball). Walk into the shot and aim the face first at the intermediate target, set your feet, look at the target and hit. Remember to breathe.

3)  Post shout routine.  After the ball leaves the face, there is nothing you can do to get that shot back. You can, however, diagnose the ball flight error in order to hopefully not repeat the mistake again. My suggestion, make a few more rehearsal swings in attempt to “feel” what didn’t happen correctly. For example, if you slice, rehearse 2 swings feeling the face close sooner.  After the rehearsals, put the club back in the bag and get ready to do the process all over again.

John is the PGA Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy at TPC Scottsdale home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. To book a lesson or comment on this tip, email at