Pre Shot Routine For Golf (5 Simple Steps)

Most golfers want to play better, more consistent golf. 

If you polled golfers, a high percentage simply want to play “more consistent,” which often means hitting their best shots more frequently.

Golfers end up on a journey, they consider their equipment, golf swing, golf shoes, etc. 

Anything that can make a difference in their game.

An often overlooked part of the game is the pre shot routine for the golf swing.  Too many amateurs have no patterns to follow or system when they approach their golf ball. 

This starts as early as the tee box and takes place all the way through the green.

A lack of a pre shot routine can hurt a golfer and his or her overall consistency. 

The process that a golfer goes through to get their mind right, to ensure they have the right club, and to feel confident all lead to the end result and impact the outcome of each swing.

The best golfers in the world have a routine for every shot they hit. Check out the 5 simple steps below.

What Is A Pre Shot Routine in Golf?

A system or process that a golfer follows to ensure they have the right club, mindset and approach to the shot they are about to hit.  The pre shot routine can do wonders to help keep the golfer focused and confident over a golf shot.  It can help eliminate bad decisions or indecision on a golf course.  Both of which can be devastating to the final score.

Every golfer should work to build his or her own pre shot routine. 

If you need examples, check out the professional golfers on television for some ideas on pre shot routines or check out the video below linked below. 

Keep it short and sweet so as not to hold up the rest of the course, but most importantly to ensure you are ready as your step to the ball to hit the shot.

Pre Shot Routine for Golf – 5 Simple Steps

Step 1: Assess the Situation

As you arrive at your golf ball or head to the tee box, consider the following information:

  • What kind of lie do you have?
  • What distance is the ideal distance for the shot?  (Do you have front, middle and back distance for an approach shot?)
  • Where is the greatest trouble?
  • What is the correct play?
  • What is the wind doing?
  • What is your target line?
  • What club provides the best chance for the goal you have with the shot?
  • Other factors influencing distance, such as uphill, the weather, etc.
Assessing the lie is very important. Once you do the routine long enough, it will become 2nd nature.

Step 2: Get ready for the shot

  • Pull your club and start to take some half swings, feeling the weight of the club and overall motion you want to make.
  • Commit to the shot.
  • Review your start line and target once again.
  • Rely on the feel that you have developed and are working with that day.  Try to stay away from mechanical thoughts.
  • Take one last good look from behind the ball and get ready to step into your shot.

Step 3: Approach the ball

  • Keep your mind target focused.
  • Feel the swing thought you want.  Work on rhythm.
  • Align to the ball, check ball position and alignment.
  • Deep breath – The goal is to remain tension free
  • Some may have a slight trigger to start the swing.
Going through a routine will help eliminate bad decisions and compounding bad situations and making it worse.

Step 4: Make the Swing

  • Stay tension free and confident
  • Be aggressive

Step 5: Post shot assessment

  • Quickly assess your shot and if it was a good shot, egrain that swing feel and watch the ball for the entire flight, trying to remember what the swing felt like.
  • Be confident in your decision and put that last shot behind you.
  • Start to focus on the next shot.

How To Develop Your Own Pre Shot Routine?

The best time to practice this pre shot routine is at the driving range.  The key is to find what makes you comfortable and able to make a tension free swing.  During the course of a round, there are pressure moments. 

The more you stick with your routine, the more your mind and body can be at ease that you have everything under control.

If you were to time the best golfers of all time, like a Tiger Woods, you will see that he is almost down to the exact second on the total time it takes him once he pulls his club and is getting ready to hit the shot.

Here is an excellent video on some pre shot routines:

How Long is Too Long for a Pre Shot Routine?

Everything in a pre shot routine is somewhat personal, but if you stand over the ball for too long, you can start to hurt your game. 

Once again, try out different routines at the driving range or during a practice round.  Find what works best for your game.  Keeping in mind that we all have a duty to keep the pace of play at an ideal level.  

We want the golf swing to be fluid and relaxed to allow your body to make the full motion needed to hit a quality shot!

The key is to walk to your ball quickly, complete the assessment of your situation and get into the shot.

Technology can help provide better information and speed up play!

What Technology Can Help with a Pre Shot Routine?

I would recommend filming your pre shot routine when you are at the driving range.  Set up your cell phone and record the process that you go through.  Find what works for your and apply it to your game.

I would also highly recommend a golf rangefinder to help provide you with the exact distance to the pin and also a GPS watch.  These two technology devices can help the golfer who doesn’t have a caddie by their side. 

The information of front, middle, back and exact distance to the pin is so helpful and worth the money to have this information at your fingertips.

There is nothing worse than a well struck shot that goes too short or too long because you had an inaccurate distance.

Here are two posts I have on these items:

BONUS TIP: Map Your Bag

One of the keys to any quality golf is knowing how far you can hit each club in your bag.  If you don’t have this information charted you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. 

Here is a way to make this happen: Measure Your Swing/Distances

The great thing about golf in today’s era is that golfers have access to some wonderful technology that can allow them to experiment and figure out what is best for their game.  I highly recommend a launch monitor to help know the exact carry distance of each club, but especially your irons and wedges.

In today’s golf world, the access to affordable launch monitors is a complete game changer.  Not only can one help you set up your experiment with different swings and philosophies, but it can also help you map your bag by knowing the distance you carry each club. 

One could try out the different methods of instruction found above and use the launch monitor to measure for success.  Some areas you will want to monitor include:

  • Start line consistency
  • Amount of side spin
  • Ball speed
  • Carry distance

A Launch Monitor is a great addition to your practice sessions even beyond determining what hip movement is best for your game.  

Stop guessing on your ball and club data and get the immediate feedback that you need to improve your game.  Club selection and the makeup of your bag is often overlooked by many amateurs.

The professional golfers of today all have access to some great technology including launch monitors to help measure their swing and know their numbers.  Can an amateur use this same or similar technology for game improvement?  

Yes, absolutely and I would highly recommend it.  

Even if you aren’t going to go all out and build an indoor golf simulator like I did (see below), you can still pick up a launch monitor at a reasonable price and use it in your indoor net or taking to the course or driving range with you!  

Knowing numbers like spin rate, ball speed, spin axis and other key information is vital to your growth.  Sharing these numbers with your instructor can be helpful and help with equipment selection as well.  This will help you select the right clubs for your bag and when to add that extra hybrid or wedge.

I would recommend one of the three launch monitors listed below:

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  

I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day. 

I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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