Start each shot by committing to developing something that every good player utilizes: a consistent pre-shot routine that doesn’t take too long. Doing the same things just before you hit the ball helps to focus your mind on the task at hand and distracts you from the possible penalties you face for hitting a poor shot. It also helps to keep up the pace of play, especially if your routine only takes a total of about 20 seconds. This holds true for the short game and putting as well. There will be a number of steps you must remember to get yourself aligned and balanced with the correct distance from the ball, the proper ball position, and the proper posture. Here in detail is my pre-shot routine. From the moment I take my first step from behind the ball on the target line I take 12-14 seconds to pull the trigger (and don’t forget that you must decide on the club you are going to use and the shot you would like to hit in a similarly timely fashion).
- From about 5 yards behind the ball on the target line (where you are supposed to be visualizing your shot and picking a spot over which to aim) begin walking directly toward the ball for a few steps and then veer off to the left so that you can approach the ball from a right angle to the target line.
- Step in toward the ball with the right foot first, positioning your weight onto the front of your foot with your knee flexed and your back tilted the way you want it when you take the club back
- Aim the clubface perpendicular to the target line, another way of saying “square”.
- Bring the left foot over and adjust to the proper distance from the ball.
- Put the feet together so that they are touching and get the ball directly in the center.
- Spread out the left foot first to establish your ball position, then move the right foot on the target line to your desired stance width.
- Glance up at the target (you would probably have done this already a couple of times) and make any adjustment you deem necessary.
- Waggle the club a few times, then settle yourself for about 1 to 2 seconds before you start your backswing.
You should practice this on the driving range, eliminating getting behind the ball before you hit. You should try to use some sort of alignment aid when you practice so you eliminate having to aim every time.