Building A Short Game Pre-Shot Routine

Preparing to hit a short game shot is quite different from getting ready to make a full swing. In the short game, you don’t have to worry about picking a target far off in the distance, because the hole should be within close range at this point. However, you still need to pick a target, based on the slope of the ground between you and the cup. Between selecting a target and getting your technique ready to go, there is plenty to do when it comes to pre-shot short game work.

Let’s take a quick look at a few key points to keep in mind when building your short game routine.

  • Keep it similar. While you aren’t going to use the exact same routine in the long game and the short game, you can maintain some consistency between the two. For instance, if you take a deep breath to end your long game routine, try doing the same thing in the short game. Or, if you like to visualize your long shots making their way toward the target, continue that visualization habit here in the short game as well. Familiarity tends to breed comfort on the course, so match up these two pre-shot routines as nicely as possible.
  • You can probably use a couple practice swings. You don’t want to make multiple practice swings in the long game, as doing so is just going to take up too much time. In the short game, however, this isn’t so much of a problem. You can quickly make a couple practice putting strokes or chipping swings without causing your playing partners to get impatient. Don’t let it drag on too long, of course, but it’s probably just find to make a couple practice swings or strokes before getting on with the shot.
  • Reset after a bad shot. Due to the nature of the short game, it is easy to storm up to your ball after a bad shot in order to play the next shot as quickly as possible. For instance, if you hit a chip shot fat and the ball doesn’t even reach the green, you may just rush up and swing again. That would be a mistake. Instead, you should use your routine to reset your mind and focus on playing the next shot as successfully as possible. Slow yourself down momentarily, let another player hit a shot (if possible), and then play your next stroke. It takes patience to cool down for a moment after a bad short game shot, but your score will thank you in the end.
  • Don’t take short putts for granted. Even amateur golfers who have a solid pre-putt routine in place tend to get away from it as they get close to the hole. If you’re only facing a three-footer, do you really need your routine? Yes, you probably do. Unless you are tapping the ball into the cup from a distance where you almost can’t miss, it is best to mark your ball and go through your routine. Missing short putts is a quick way to add wasted strokes to your score, so don’t rush through these strokes and find yourself wishing you would have taken more time. As a simple rule of thumb, you should use your routine each time there is even a possibility of a miss.

Building a pre-shot routine is a great way to work toward more consistent performance on the course. No golfer is perfectly consistent – even the pros have good days and bad days – but spending time on your preparation should at least take you in the right direction. Not only will your body be more prepared for each swing, but your mind should be as well. Remember, your pre-shot routine needs to be specific to your game and your needs, so take time to create something that you love and trust. Good luck!