Pre-shot prep and plan execution will deliver greater consistency and lower scores.
By Alex Fisher
PLAYING YOUR BEST GOLF requires consistency. But what exactly does that mean? Contrary to what many amateur players think, consistency is about more than hit- ting the ball perfectly, making more putts and even having a repeatable golf swing. Consistency starts before you even tee off on the first hole.
Course management is one of the main reasons why players on tour shoot low scores. Not only do they have a caddie to reconfirm their plan, but they also carry a thick yardage book in their back pocket full of notes on how they are going to navigate the course. Without a plan, you’re like a quarterback who takes his team into the red zone with no idea as to how to score a touchdown. If you have a golf course that you play on a regular basis there is no reason you cannot create a playbook of how you are going to manage your way around the course.
Your plan should start from the tee on every hole. Picking the correct side of the teeing area is a fundamental that most golfers tend to overlook. Recognizing where the trouble is and which areas to avoid should influence which side of the teeing ground you use. Simply put, if you want to avoid the trouble on the right, hit from the right side of the tee box; trouble on the left means teeing it up on the left. This might sound counterintuitive, but it will align you towards the safe side of the hole and have you playing away from the danger.
Amateurs often overlook their preparation to play golf. Plan for every shot—that is a key ingredient for playing great golf.
RECOGNIZE AND VISUALIZE
Before you even pull the club, stand on the teeing area and visualize the shot you want to execute. Recognize where you do not want the ball to go and be specific on the line you want to take. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging where the danger is, but you must have a clear and specific plan of how you are going to navigate the hole.
WALK THE LINE
After you have visualized the shot you want to hit and have selected a club, you have to walk to the ball on the correct line. It is easy to aim too far left or right if you approach the ball from the wrong angle. Stand behind the ball and make sure that your chest, ball and intended target all align. This will help you line up square to your target. If you stand behind the ball but your chest and feet are pointing right or left of the target, you will aim right or left without realizing it.
STEP INTO YOUR SETUP
To get your body square and parallel to your target you must follow a three-step sequence:
1. As you approach the ball, plant your back foot first while keeping your chest open to the target and front foot back.
2. Rotate your chest so that it is facing the ball.
3. Bring your left foot in, making sure that your chest and feet are aligned and that you have not compromised your ball position.
The power of visualization is often overlooked and underestimated. If you fixate on where the trouble is, you are more likely to be pulled in that direction. Picture the swing that you want to make and what the ball flight will look like as it leaves the club face and travels towards your target. If you are not committed to the shot or are distracted by something, make sure that you back away and reset.
SWITCH IT OFF
The moment of truth has arrived. Having taken all the cognitive steps necessary in order to hit the shot, be autonomous, switch off your brain and swing free. Your pre-shot routine and planning should have gotten you to the point where you are able to hit your shot with full commitment and intent.
Multiple-award-winning PGA Director of Instruction Alex Fisher divides his year between Glacier Club in Durango (May–September) and the JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Reach him at alexfisherpga.com; 602-363-9800
This article was also featured in the July 2021 Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.