We all know that one player who we don’t want to play against when the stakes are high. It seems as though whenever it means the most, they always make it happen.
If it’s a crucial drive down a tight par four, you know their ball will find the fairway. If it’s a 6 footer to win the match, you might as well walk to the cart because it’s going in.
Their incredible focus makes you think they’ll hole every big putt and never miss a shot.
Every golfer dreams of becoming this player. We’ve all thought of how cool it would be to be known as “the Iceman” at our local club.
The truth of the matter is that any one of us can be this player. Like the rest of your golf game, it all comes down to how you practice. Having the proper pre-shot routine may be one of the most important factors in becoming your clubs “go to” guy.
Golf is just like anything else. You perform how you prepare to perform.
If you’re unorganized, unstructured, and have a very lax practice routine, it will show under pressure.
Notice how great pressure players like Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus seem exactly the same whether it’s the first hole of a four day tournament or the last hole to win the masters. Their walk, pace, and especially pre-shot routine never waver.
Building a great pre-shot routine is all about simplicity. It should not be complicated or overly lengthy. Keep it short and sweet.
I recommend standing behind the ball and taking one practice swing. As you’re taking this practice swing, you want to be visualizing the type of shot that you’ll be playing.
After your practice swing, take a deep breath from behind the ball and play the shot in your mind’s eye, seeing the entire flight of the ball.
Next, you want to address the ball, placing the club behind the ball first, and then use whatever system you have developed to get yourself properly aligned. Take one more look at your target and pull the trigger. It’s that simple.
Most people get into trouble by ditching their pre-shot routine when the stakes get high.
They often rush through their routine, not taking the proper amount of time to visualize the shot. Even worse, they sometimes take twice as much time and extra practice swings, allowing time for negative thoughts to envelope their mind.
The key is to practice just as you will perform. Develop a simple and effective pre-shot routine and have it exactly the same for every shot, for the rest of your career.
Sticking to your routine will give you comfort in familiarity, and help to clear your mind of unneeded thoughts. Become a master of consistency and you’ll be collecting more checks than you’re writing in your weekend game.