"I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head."

Jack Nicklaus



To bring your game up to another level and create an advantage over your opponents, it is vital to have a set pattern in approaching each golf shot. This does not have to be a long process. You can run through all the steps in less then 10 seconds. But the key is doing the same thing the same way each time. You see the best players on the PGA or LPGA Tour have a set way of doing their pre-shot routines. Very rarely do they vary from their ritual. This is one of the secrets of better golf. Follow these six steps and your game will improve. At first you will have to remind yourself to follow the steps and especially at first it may take longer then you would like to go through each step, but it is well worth the effort. After faithfully following your routine for a number of days, the pattern will become habit and part of your normal routine. You will have created a habit, a GOOD habit, a habit that you do naturally without thought, and this habit will be hard to break, because it will help you in becoming a better golfer.

ANALYZE - The first step to becoming machine-like is to analyze the situation. Take in the information that the environment gives you. The yardage, the wind, the lie of the ball, the slope of the terrain, the pin position, the trouble surrounding the target, and the club needed to get there. Use your past experiences only for how it relates to this situation now. Stay in the present time zone and use your visual system to help you properly analyze the shot.

MECHANICS - Observe your mechanical checklist. Keep this list short. If you need to make a practice swing, do it behind the ball. Do not make a mechanical swing beside the ball before you are to hit the ball. TARGET - The third step is picking the target. Golf is a game of targets. Stand behind the ball and pick a target as small as possible. Targets should be exact locations like; the right side of the fairway at the small tree, or 10 feet left of the pin on an iron shot, or the right lip of the cup on a putt. Remember the smaller the better, as this helps fine-tune your visual skills and helps keep the concentration in the visual system where it belongs.

VISUALIZE - The most important step. Again, from behind the ball. Picture and internalize the swing and the shot that you want to hit. Pay attention to the correct tempo or rhythm that you desire. See yourself making the correct swing and visualize the ball flying on its intended line toward the hole. Feel the body move and experience the joy of a fine golf shot. Your concentration in this mode is on feeling the overall experience, not thinking of the mechanics or how the shot is hit. The feeling or realization of how the body moves or the feeling of being in the right position at a certain point in your swing should be secondary. Attention should be maintaining the picture of the desired golf shot, and the physical movement of the swing should be subconscious. This secondary concentration can also be called "soft focus."

ALIGNMENT - The fifth step is best done by standing behind the ball and drawing an imaginary line from the ball to the target. Keep looking at the target as your step up to the ball and adjust your feet on the correct line. Now walk to the side of the ball and……

TASK - Accomplish the task. You have done all your homework and are ready to hit the ball. This is not the time to rethink or question your judgment. Put the club behind the ball, keeping the visual picture you have drawn in you mind on how you will hit the ball, and HIT THE BALL. NO INTERNAL VERBALIZATION - THINK ONLY IN PICTURES The act of hitting the ball should be done as unemotionally as possible. After you have hit the ball, you become the observer. If your expectations or pressures were too great, it could affect the outcome of the shot. By doing the same thing over and over, your fears or anxiety will greatly diminish.

REPLAY - The last step is to replay the shot. Immediately after the ball is struck, pay attention to the feedback your muscles provide. The "feel" or "touch" information can now be emphasized. If the shot was hit correctly, feel the sensation and allow yourself a degree of satisfaction. If the shot was not hit the way you wanted, analyze why the shot turned out incorrectly. Then picture the shot hit correctly, then once a positive image has been formed, leave the shot and start your concentration on the next.


You should approach each shot with the SAME ROUTINE. Your attention should not vary as to the importance of one shot over another. The second shot on the third hole is as important as the six foot putt on the last hole to win the tournament. Good players keep the same pattern throughout their round. They might get nervous from time after time, but they rely on the process one step at a time, until the final goal is accomplished. Their confidence is in their trust of the routine. Your routine should be practiced, studied, refined and followed religiously.



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