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Some golfers begin their rounds with excellent rhythm, only to struggle as their tempo deteriorates late in the day. Others battle nerves and a quick swing early on, then smooth out as they settle down.

Ideally, the pace of your swing should remain constant from first hole to last, regardless of factors like nervous energy, anger, dejection or fatigue. Few if any golfers can manage this naturally over the long haul of 18 holes, however, so here are a few ways to maintain consistent tempo:

  • Follow a pre-shot routine: This is the key to consistency in every facet of golf, tempo included. Taking the same steps and the same amount of time before each shot evens out your pace. It can slow you down when you’re amped up, and speed you up when your adrenaline is running low. Your routine should include at least one practice swing, which can emulate the exact pace with which you want to hit the ball or feature a slightly slower tempo.

  • Have a go-to tempo drill: Inevitably, your rhythm will get out of whack during a round. When you sense this happening, it’s good to have a drill or thought handy to bring it back in line. For example, if you’re getting too quick (highly common), take a series of extra-slow practice swings between shots, about 60% of your normal pace. Long, deep breaths help too.

Work on tempo between rounds: The best way to ensure consistent tempo is to make it automatic through repetition. Your practice sessions should always include a few minutes of tempo work; the feet-together drill is unbeatable, and can be done at home without hitting a ball. Also, you should utilize your on-course pre-shot routine before every ball you hit on the range.

It will take a few more minutes to finish a bucket, but you’ll have better rhythm to show for it.