This is the ideal pre-shot routine, according to a Top 100 Teacher

Tiger and Charlie Woods in their pre-shot routines at the 2022 PNC Championship.

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If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your game, developing a consistent pre-shot routine is an excellent place to start.

One major difference between high-handicappers and better players is that better players tend to have a pre-shot routine that stays the same on every single shot, which creates a repeatable rhythm and fosters confidence.

But what does an ideal pre-shot routine look like? I asked Top 100 Teacher Jeff Smith at GOLF’s recent Top 100 Teacher Summit at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., and he suggested a routine that would benefit players of any ability.

How to create an ideal pre-shot routine

“Stand behind the golf ball looking right at the target,” Smith said. “Create an imaginary target line. Take a couple of deep breaths. Put your hands on the club, give it a nice little waggle. Then, take a practice swing from behind the ball right down the target line while looking at the target. Picture the shot going right at the target. Walk right into your address position, settle in, and within two seconds, pull the trigger.”

golfer lines up putter behind ball

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Sounds simple enough. But why two seconds?

“A lot of times, the pre-shot routine goes completely awry by thoughts,” Smith said. “You’ve already revved up the engine with the practice swing, the hands are already on the club. So now you walk in, set the club down behind the ball, point it at the target, and it’s time to go.”

Avoiding thoughts is key to staying in rhythm, Smith says, and the whole routine should have a fluid feel.

Another thing to keep in mind: If for some reason your rhythm gets interrupted, start over. You want the whole thing to flow for optimal results.

For more tips from Jeff Smith, click here.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Issue, which debuted in February 2018. Her original interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.

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