Handle the pressure with an effective pre shot routine

Australian sports psychologist Neale SmithHUNTER MAHAN, who collecting his second US PGA Tour title with a win at the Phoenix Open this week, credits a lot of his success to Australian born sports psychologist Neale Smith.

Mahan says after his second placing at the 2002 US Amateur he always knew he had the game to win on the tour but needed help with his mental approach.

He turned to NSW south coast born Smith, a former tour player who has worked with a number of top professional golfers.

Neale recommends the following pre-shot routine to help remain cool and play consistent golf.

Step 1:

Collect the appropriate information for the shot. For example, gauge the yardage, the wind, pin placement, etc.
Step 2:

Select the shot that fits the situation and is also something that you’re comfortable with at that time. If you’re not playing your best today, be more conservative.
Step 3:

Imagine or describe what you are about to do. This will help create the intention of what you are going to do.
Step 4:

Connect to the feel needed to produce the shot. Most players connect with their practice swings. Some don’t rehearse at all. Find what works for you.
Step 5:

Aim your clubface, body, eyes and mind. These four key elements must be aligned to start the ball on the line you’ve planned.
Step 6:

Make a trusting motion using the cue that best helps you hit the shot you have planned. It may be a target cue, swing thought, swing feel, rhythm cue, or nothing at all — whatever works best for you. Direct your attention to what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. Fear of the potential result may get in the way of making a smooth, trusting motion.


This all sounds like a lot and the last thing a club golfer wants to see is a player in front taking an age with every shot, but an effective routine can be accomplished in a short period of time – many pros only take around 11 to 12 seconds on their pre shot routines. They can even start as you are walking up to the ball.

The whole point is you are approaching every shot with a positive mental attitude, rather than standing their dithering with unwanted worries, distractions or mental wanderings.

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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017

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