Many golfers have complicated pre-swing rituals that they swear by. Highly rated Australian golfer Jason Day, for instance, famously has a 15-step pre-swing procedure that has apparently brought him much success. Others, however, believe that too many swing thoughts can actually hurt your game, or at the very least, they can psych you out. So what can you do to find the perfect balance of pre-swing thoughts without too much to hold in your brain at once? We recommend trying out just these two simple steps before every shot.
1. Set up your aim and body alignment
You’ll likely hear and read a lot of back and forth questions and advice on how to perfect your golf swing. Everyone has something to say about achieving the perfect swing path, and much of it is very useful. But the notable John Hughes for PGA.com writes that over 95 percent of all “swing flaws” are [actually] traceable to a set-up position.
He says, “Simply stated, alignment is your ability to properly place your body in a position to allow the proper movement of the club through the ball. Without proper alignment, your body receives mixed signals from your brain, in relation to your body position and your intended target.” So use your eyes to triangulate the locations of you, the ball and your target, and find your target line. Then start with your clubface and square it up. Set up your feet, activate your knees, hips, shoulders, gaze and grip before you let it rip!
2. Take a practice swing
Jason Birnbaum, a seasoned coach and golf pro at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in New York told Golf Digest that he’s “not a proponent of just walking up to the ball and hitting it.” Especially if you’re working on improving something specific about your swing, then a dress rehearsal before the real thing can help you work out jitters and refresh the muscle memory of what you want to see happen.
Birnbaum recommends exaggerating the thing you want to work on during your practice swing. “For example, if I have a student who whips the club too far inside on the takeaway into a very flat position, I will recommend they take a practice swing during their pre-shot routine where they feel the club going out and steep on the takeaway. Nine times out of 10, when they then make the real swing, they will meet in the middle and get into a very playable position.”
So why would you want to skip a practice swing?
If you’re playing 18 holes (or even an ambitious 36 holes) then you may start to feel a bit of fatigue on the back nine, or you may be tempted to “save your strength” and just go ahead and rip it. Instead of using fatigue as an excuse to skip the customary practice swing before your shots, remind yourself that practice makes perfect. Then, recommit to rocking your base golfing fitness so you have the stamina to play through with perfect form even on the 18th hole. If you need ideas, here’s our advice on four workouts to help you strengthen your golf muscles.
Reaping the benefits
— C. Pedroja