Most amateur golfers walk up to the ball, take address and whack it. Most do not seem to understand the importance of pre-shot routine. Neither do they take any practice swings nor pay attention to other fundamentals. Watch a tour professional, he practices five to eight hours a day and still practices swing — loosening muscles, judging the distance, checking the wind, evaluating the lie and taking aim to produce a good shot. Trust me even after a routine, professionals do make mistakes but chances are reduced.
Any amateur golfer, who has good pre-shot routine, definitely performs better in tour-naments compared to those who do not. The tendency to hurry on shots will not allow you to swing the club naturally under pressure situations. Most club golfers depend on their caddies and take their advice for club selection and alignment then just whack it, hoping the ball would end up close to the flag or in the middle of the fairway but the chances are very slim. If you have a good pre-shot routine, you would make a few practice swings to loosen your muscles and gain confidence on the shot that you intend to play. If you judge the lie before playing a shot, then your club selection can be even more precise.
You must take a dead aim before addressing the ball.
Other important factors are you need to swing the golf club the same way (for all full shots) every time, whether it is your driver or your wedge. That process begins by approaching the ball the same way every time. In fact, Lee Trevino stated that the timing of a golf shot begins the moment you make your first step towards the address position. And he could not have said it better.
Practice at the practice range paying attention to what is explained above. When I am playing a serious round, I would ideally approach each shot; pick a club, loosen up with at least two practice swings, judge the lie, confirm the distance once again and the club I will use to make a shot, aim at the target from behind the ball, take address position, get a good posture and look at the target again before putting complete focus on the ball.
Finally I will take a swing without worrying where it will end and usually the result is good!
It is important to take pre-shot routine, but do not unnecessarily hold a group behind by taking too much time. I am sure if you practice the above tips properly, you can focus better on the course and finally improve your game.
(The author is a golf instructor and golf director at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu.
He can be contacted through email@example.com)