You might ask yourself, "Why do I need a pre-shot routine?" Or for that matter, "What is a pre shot
routine?" A pre-shot routine is quite simply the habits or actions one takes in the few seconds before the golf swing is made.
So, why is a good routine necessary? It is important because it allows us to relax, and it enables us to develop something that is repeatable in a game where even the best players in the world struggle with constancy, accuracy, and repetition.
The next question to ask yourself is, "Do I have a pre-shot routine?" If the answer is "yes", is it a good one? If the answer is "no", your golf game will benefit from developing one.
Let's take a look at some components of professional's pre-shot routines vs. amateur's routines to see how yours measures up.
The difference between most amateurs and professionals lies in the quality of their pre-shot routines and their ability to repeat their routine time in and time out. Most amateurs will hastily walk up to the ball and then make two practice swings, then one time they will make no practice swings, and then waggle three times the next. These random actions breed inconsistency.
Meanwhile, professionals will go through the same repeatable course of action each time. This enables them to put their mind at rest. By knowing you have done your routine thousands of times, it allows the mind to focus on the actual shot at hand, thereby eliminating negative thoughts, which wreak havoc on most amateur golfers.
A good pre-shot routine will also distract you from the pressure of each shot.
You can concentrate on repeating your routine, rather than worry about the possible negative
outcomes of the shot at hand.
A good pre-shot routine is beneficial to players of all abilities. Not all pre-shot routines should be the same, but yours should be one that is repeatable and relaxing.
Here are a few tips to work with to develop a good pre-shot routine.
Start behind the golf ball and envision your target. Once you have focused on a target, make a practice swing with your eyes remaining focused on your target. As you swing, think about the perfect result from your shot. Now step up to the ball and take your address. Once you are comfortable with your address, take a deep breath, releasing the tension in your body as you exhale. Finally, take one last look at target to improve focus and play your shot with control.
Let me cut right to the gist of this tip. To get out of a bunker in the
fairway you should hit the ball not
the sand first. If you hit the ball cleanly and pick it, it will fly far, if you hit the ball and pinch it against the sand, the golf ball will come out and fly lower than normal. If you should hit
the sand and then the ball, you have played a greenside bunker shot.
Pot bunkers are the name of the game in Scotland, and they are not easy to get the ball out.
Imagine staring at a wall of sand or railroads ties 8 feet high, and a pin 150 yards away! How in the earth are you going to get out of that one? Quite often players will have to reverse course and pitch the ball out either sideways or back towards the tee.
A guaranteed lost stroke on the hole, and quite often the majors are won or lost by a single
stroke. Occasionally you will see pot bunkers around the greens, and if you ever have played Links courses you know what I am talking about.
Fairway bunkers tend not to be to deep and have a small lip if any. But what is the best way to advance the ball forward? It actually is quite easy. Phil Mickleson and a few other pros have said how it works! First off, a fairway bunker is completely different than a green side bunker. Green side bunker shots require you to open the clubface, open and place the ball forward in your stance. You will bounce the club and hit sand before the ball. This is not the case in fairway bunkers.
A fairway bunker requires you to hit the ball and not the sand. Here is an easy way to set up properly for a great fairway bunker shot. Select the normal club for the distance of the shot you are hitting. I would suggest staying away from fairway woods unless you are a very low handicapper. Place the ball in the middle of your stance.
Plant your feet firmly in the sand, thick sand will require you to choke down on the club slightly to compensate for your feet digging in the sand. Align your clubface, feet, and shoulders towards your target. You are now in the proper position to hit a fairway bunker shot.
At this point take your normal swing path and attempt to hit the ball only. The key to the swing is hitting the ball first and not the sand. Jack was a great fairway bunker player and quite often he would be able to hit the same shot from a good lie in a bunker as from the fairway.
Practice doesn't always make perfect in golf, but for any level of player, from beginner, to
intermediate, to advanced, practicing effectively will have a huge impact on your play.
This is especially true in the area of the short game.
Developing your off-green putting, chipping and pitching skills so that they will transfer to on-course situations should be the goal of short game practice sessions.
When practicing our short game, we tend to place practice balls in one spot and pull each ball over
one at a time (giving ourselves the best lie possible), and repetitively hit shot after shot at the same target. This is called block practice and is fine as a skill development drill, helping us to
learn or practice a motion.
However, this type of repetitive drill often creates an unrealistic expectation for the player, as it has only a slight resemblance to the actual on-course shots they will face in competitive situations.
Alternatively, a player who distributes his or her golf balls at various locations around the target green -- allowing for different lies, stances, distances and angles of approach -- is creating a scattered practice routine. This routine will better help prepare them for the actual on-course situations they will face, and is effective in developing skills in both shot planning (club selection, choosing the landing area, etc.) and execution.
The results we get with the scattered practice routine will likely be much closer to true on-course
results, and therefore will have a greater impact on the scores we shoot.
A fun way to add a scoring element to your short game practice sessions is to hit eleven shots tothe same target from scattered positions. Then find the ball that is sixth in distance from the target. This is your approximate average distance. Go ahead and putt this ball and see if you left yourself a makeable putt, which is known as "getting up-and-down." Set distance goals for yourself to see if you can get that average ball consistently closer to the pin, and make each ball count, just as you would do in playing situations.
I can't stress enough the importance of not only practicing your short game, but also receiving expert instruction to ensure that you are practicing effectively. While many people might associate PGA Teaching Professionals with full swing instruction, they also have the expertise to teach you the short game shot planning skills and techniques that with practice can lower your scores drastically.
Today's lesson starts your series of drills covering the area of chipping and pitching and focuses on a technique called the Under Reach Technique which was invented by short game expert Paul Runyan.
I had never heard of this before and asked a pro at my local course whether he knew of it. He said
that it is a drill that he uses all the time to help higher handicappers get some consistency in their chipping. So I asked him to show me how it worked. It only cost me a couple of beers, well maybe
four or five. It really is a simple and effective way of stopping you duff those short little chip shots which most of us either fat or thin.
Regardless of ability , we all have good days and bad days when it comes to hitting greens in regulation. On the bad days, it's important that you have the method and means to get up and down with some regularity; otherwise, your scores will be much higher than you'd like.
A Pro I asked about the drill said:
This is where a strong mental thought should be used. In getting up and down, the getting up part is the most important. If you can chip the ball ON THE GREEN and relatively close, you won't have to worry about making those tough 20 to 30 footers. Unfortunately, most high handicap players short games aren't up to much (well mine certainly wasn't). If there's one mistake that I made on a regular basis that caused me and my overall score the most damage, it was hitting the chip fat and not even Getting Up. I've learned this great technique to ensure that you never hit a short shot short again (well most of the time), and you can use it too.
This method is a method which was used by short-game master Paul Runyan, he called this technique "under-reaching the ball." It's quite interesting and easy to apply in the short game.
The biggest problem amateur golfers like me and you have when it comes to the short game is chunked shots. To help prevent fat chips, try the under-reach technique. Begin by assuming your address position, with your arms hanging to their natural length.
Choke down on the club about an inch (I go even shorter, about two inches), and hover the club just off the ground as you get ready to execute the shot. The combination of choking the grip and hovering the club will help you guard against hitting the shot fat. When you finally make a swing, simply concentrate on hitting the bottom half of the ball.
How to set up for the Under Reach
Start with the posture. With the ball positioned in the middle of your stance, assume your normal setup and allow your arms to fall downward in front of you as far as they can. Allow gravity to stretch them fully. Then, take your standard grip on the club. As you grip the club, allow the sole to rest gently on the ground. Now, grip down on the club approximately one inch. If you choke down appropriately, the club head should hover just above the grass. (Try this out on the carpet at home, it will give you the right visual of how the club will hover off of the ground)This is the under-reach to which Paul Runyan referred. With the club just above ground level, the leading edge of the club is now located at the bottom of the golf ball.
Note: The longer the grass from which you're playing, the more effective this technique becomes. In long grass, the ball will often sit up, making it easy to slide the club head underneath the ball. By hovering the club, you'll ensure crisper, squarer contact. Why does it Work? For you to get the ball up in the air, the leading edge of the club must pass under the equator (the middle of the ball). In this new address position, the leading edge of the club is well below the middle of the ball, making a square strike easier to attain. The only way to hit the shot fat is by changing your posture as you swing the club. If you remain in the same posture you established at address and maintain your spine angle, you'll strike the ball squarely every time and Not Leave it Short.
The only thing that might cause you a problem with this technique is keeping your posture. A good way to ensure that you keep your posture intact is to keep your chin up and stand tall as you execute your swing. This will also better allow your arms to swing freely and stretch out through the shot, so the club can reach the bottom of the golf ball.
Golf in many ways is a game of opposites. For example, in order to make the ball go up, you have to hit down on it. Most players try to "lift" the ball in the air instead of striking downward and pinching the ball against the turf. These players should look at the basic design of a golf club, which typically places the hands slightly ahead of the leading edge of the clubface. This is done in order to help create the perfect impact position, one defined by the hands leading the club into the back of the golf ball. In so doing, the loft that's built into the club lifts the ball into the air, not the hands. The under-reach technique helps you to take advantage of just that.
Of course, the club can't do all the work, you have to put it into motion. Now, before you think about swinging the club, think about the pace. The right pace is the true key to short shots around the green. You don't see a Tour pro strike a chip with a herky-jerky motion. Most of the top short-game players allow the club to move in response to gravity, not to muscular effort. When golfers overuse their muscles, their grip on the club usually tightens, which can affect the position of the clubface at the all-important moment of impact.
When trying to gain a nice free flowing rhythmical short-game swing, why not try the following two drills. They're easy to execute and do the best job of ingraining the sensation of the club responding to gravity while the body and hands function solely to support the club head.
Give this pair of drills a go the next time you practice your chipping technique. Coupled with the under-reach technique, I'm sure you'll keep those chunked chips at bay and give yourself more opportunities to get up and down and save par.
It's absolutely critical that you slide the leading edge of the club under the ball when executing short-game shots.
The only way to effectively slide the club under the golf ball is to give your arms plenty of room
to swing (Under Reach). To do this, you must stand tall and keep your head up; otherwise, it's easy to skull the shot over the green or chunk it short of the target.
Brush The Grass Drill Make three continuous practice swings back and through while eyeing your target. Making rehearsal swings while looking at the target will help you instinctively determine the length and pace necessary to hit the shot the appropriate distance. Then, step up to the ball and duplicate your rehearsal swing over the golf ball. Finally, hit the chip. I think you'll be surprised how well you'll strike the ball and how much more fluid your swing will feel.
The Name Game
Think of the name of a star or celebrity who has two syllables in the first name and two syllables in the last name. (i.e., John-ny Mill-er, Fred-dy Coup-les, By-ron Nel-son). As you make your swing, say the first name on the backswing and the last name on the forward swing. Since the first and last names feature the same number of syllables, using them in time with your swing will ensure that the length and pace of your backswing matches the length and pace of your forward swing, a critical element of sound chipping. In the short game, too much speed and not enough rhythm can be even more detrimental. Shots around the green are all about distance control and touch. A good, relaxed tempo is crucial to achieving the desired results.
Do you panic when faced with a short shot, say 20 yards to the hole? Most of us do. We worry about
topping the ball and having it end up in the bunker on the other side of the green. It’s happened too often for us not to think about it. Well, there is hope.
Here are two tips to help you master the pitch shot.
First, we will address how to hit it in the center of the clubface for consistent loft each time.
We cannot measure distance until the balls response off the clubface is the same each
The biggest swing error I see in golfers facing the 20 – 40 yard pitch shot is fear. Their minds are screaming for mercy, praying for luck, and hoping for the best. This fear causes the player to poke or jab at the ball instead of swinging confidently through the ball.
Poking or jabbing causes the club to decelerate as you’re approaching the ball. The first step in
hitting the sweet spot is to accelerate through the ball. To do this, you must eliminate your fear and trust that you CAN make this shot. Successful practice will build your confidence but here’s a
tip on how to practice.
The fundamental thing that makes the ball go in the air is simply to "brush the grass." If the ball needs to respond off the center of the clubface and the ball is resting on the ground, then you must get the bottom edge of the clubface under the ball. This is the "brushing of the grass" Take a few practice swings and brush the grass each time. Notice how easy it is if you are relaxed and not "gripping the devil" out of the club. Go back and forth and back and forth like a metronome.
Once this is accomplished, the second challenge is to generate the different distances required to get the ball close to the hole.
Don’t cut your finish short. After your shot, pause the follow through position to see where you are. Practice this to ensure a complete follow through each time. Remember, your first goal is to get the ball lofted the same each time. After that, you can start to work on your distance.
There will be plenty of times when you will find your ball just off the green, not too far away from the hole, but in some scrubby rough grass. You don't really want to putt the ball from here, as you don't know how hard you will need to hit it to get it though the grass, plus the wiry grass can also knock the ball off line. Chipping the ball is another option, but this too has it's pitfalls, as the grass can grab and twist the clubface, knocking the ball off line when you swing through. This is where "The Runyan" golf lesson comes in.
Situations like this can be conquered through plenty of practice which brings the confidence with which to play any particular shot. This scenario would be the perfect time to put in to practice Paul Runyan's golf lesson. Here is how he taught it:
1. Take up your putting
stance, and keep your front foot slightly open.
2. Make sure you are standing on your intended target line.
3. Now hold the club, as you would your putter, and address the ball. A good choice of club here is the 7 iron. The club should be on it's toe, with the heel off the ground.
4. Grip the club as you would grip your putter.
5. Place the ball in the centre of your stance, which has the effect of de-lofting the club.
6. Using your putting action, swing the club straight back and through. The clubhead should be kept low to the ground, and you should try to make this a "shoulders and arms" type of shot.
And that completes "The Runyan" golf lesson.
Played correctly, the ball will hop out of the grass and remain low, like a standard chip shot. The reason for this is that when you have hit the ball, contact is made with the toe of the club, which causes the swing to slightly deaden the hit. Due to the small amount of loft, the ball will slightly ride the face of the club. This in turn, causes some overspin, which helps the ball to roll forward. And the aim is to have the ball roll for at least 75% to 80% of the shot.
So, to conclude this golf lesson with a short summary. If you play "The Runyan" shot the way it's creator intended, the ball should run up the clubface, spin, and hit the green running towards the hole. With a little practice, this is a shot that could help you towards lower scores.
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