Pre-shot routine is generally seen as the series of events leading up to the playing of a golf shot. These repetitive movements. as the term “routine” implies, are a great benefit to consistent shotmaking. If you know what you did before you swung the club (grip, stance, ball position), then all you are trying to retrieve is what the swing felt like. You must re-trace your steps to build the ability to set up to the ball with a high level of consistency. Also, this routine builds a safe haven that keeps pressure away from us. We end up creating a “window of opportunity” that allows us to feel the optimum time for us to swing the club. I teach my students that visualization, seeing the successful result, is as important as anything else in our pre-shot routine. I ask them to look at the target while aiming. Then, once they are satisfied that they are set up properly, they must have one last look that involves picturing the ball flying toward the target the way they had hoped. When they look down at the ball to swing, they must be within seconds of a very pleasant, successful picture in their mind. In the sales world, it is called the “suggestive sell.” During that sales call, you must ask questions that only get a “yes” answer. People don’t just call me and ask for a lesson. They say, “What time today can I have a lesson?” We ask our students to be optimistic. I ask them to try to think of only what they want. If they find themselves worrying about potential doom, quickly jump on that thought with a “not today, not this time” rebound thought. It takes real practice, and we do not have the same emotions on a daily basis. An affirmative series of actions greatly improves your chances of a good result. Before you play the pitch shot, you walk half way beside the shot and judge the depth. From that, you decide on a landing spot, which is based upon the lie and the club best suited for that lie. Then, you make practice swings thinking about and looking at the landing spot. All of this is a visualization exercise based upon having played this shot successfully before. This is called “playing golf,” rather than just chasing your ball around the course. Before you roll the putt, roll it with your eyes and see it going in, at exactly the right speed and the perfect part of the hole. Give your mind something it can work with. Your nerves will appreciate the mental support, as well. Much has been made lately of Jason Day closing his eyes to see his shot before he approaches the ball. He has been doing this for awhile, but his spectacular success this year has brought it to the forefront. This type of advice, when given to younger people, many times is discounted, so I never miss an opportunity to build vision while practicing and when analyzing a round. Any time a player tells me they are having trouble taking their range game to the course, they get the speech about practicing like they play, simulating playing conditions and visualizing. At the level of professional golf, where everyone hits the ball at a high level, mental skills are a separating point. Optimism, composure, and a mind that paints a vivid picture of success are the intangibles that save strokes and win tournaments. You must VISUALIZE TO REALIZE!  
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