Golfers are not consistent in how they approach shots on the course. Many golfers don’t go through a proper pre shot routine before they hit a shot. The easiest way to make the proper decisions on the golf course is to go through a 4 step routine to guarantee that you are focused.
Step One- Approach shot and take in the entire environment. This includes the lie of the ball, the yardage, wind, hazards, and the intended target. This is classified as broad/external focus. This is where the golfer takes in a lot of information and observes what is in front of him or her.
Step Two- This step requires the golfer to analyze the environment. Making a decision requires to know your strengths and weaknesses to determine the best shot at that time. I teach my students to come up with a ‘hard’ yardage. This is what the shot actually plays after analyzing all the environmental factors. Too many golfers don’t properly make the right choice because they rush this step. They may generalize the decision instead of focusing on the exact shot they want to hit. If the hard yardage is 156 yards to the target and you guess 145 because you don’t take into account the elevation of the shot then your results will suffer. Here is where knowing your game is crucial. What is the best shot for you to play in that moment? Sometimes you should play conservative, while other times go right for the flag. Analyze the situation based on your game to come up with a committed decision.
Step Three- This is where you put your decision to the test of feel. This is where you place your focus on choosing the club and the type of shot you want to play. The question asked here is, what is the shot that I am most confident playing in this situation? Describe the exact shot you want to play. If the shot requires a ¾ 6 iron, then commit to that decision. The next part of this step is to rehearse the shot exactly how you want to execute it. I see too many golfers take a practice swing that doesn’t resemble how the actual shot is going to be played. The practice swing should create a feeling of the shot. Take that feeling to the next step which is execution.
Step Four- Now your focus goes to a specific target. At this stage you are actually hitting the shot. If you have completed the first three steps correctly then you will be able to trust the shot. Your focus stays on an external target and you want to execute by just letting go. Always focus on what you want the shot to do, not on where you don’t want the shot to go.
Problems golfers have with the four steps of focus:
- Golfers get stuck focusing on the hazards and can’t get focused on target.
- Golfers overanalyze the environment to the point they can’t make a committed decision.
- Golfers never rehearse the exact swing and it creates poor execution.
- Golfers never let go and trust their decision. Instead of focusing on target during the final step they may be still analyzing how they are going to hit the shot or are distracted by the hazards.
The four steps of focus can be boiled down to:
- Observe your environment to be able to make the best decision
- See the shot you want to play by analyzing what is best for your game
- Feel the shot you want to play by having a rehearsed practice swing
- Trust the shot by letting go and focusing on the target