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Pre-Shot Routine
Ernie Els

A consist ant pre-shot routine is as important as good swing mechanics.

During practice sessions, I'm thinking 'golf swing'. Is my takeaway too much on the inside? Am I keeping my spine angle consistent through the shot?

But once I'm on the course, my focus is all 'target - where do I want to hit the ball; what shot is the best one to make that happen?'

If you're thinking 'golf swing' thoughts before every shot, you aren't going to play as well as you can. It's happened to me, and I feel like I'm out there chasing the ball around and getting myself into trouble.

My pre-shot routine helps me to focus completely, absolutely, on my target instead of my swing. I start by picking a small intermediate target just in front of my ball - like a leaf or bit of turf - on the line I want to hit the shot.

I'll use that target to set myself up for the shot, then switch between looking at the small target and the real target down the hole. The rest of my routine (illustrated here in full) helps keep me to stay focused and relaxed.

Practising versus warming up

Practice is my time to think about my swing. Before a round, I'm trying to get loose and am concentrating on feel in my hands. Before a tournament round, I hit 50 balls at most, starting with my wedge and working my way up through the odd clubs - 9-iron, 7-iron, 5-iron and so on. I finish with my driver, then, I go to the practice green to putt.

During a practice session, I might hit 300 balls. For each shot, I'm focusing on grip and ball position, along with what I'm working on. Right now, it's keeping my spine angle consistent. If I get taller during a swing, I can lose shots to the right.

Getting over losses

It's been a frustrating year for me at the majors. The Open at Troon was the most painful. I really felt like it was mine to win. I put myself right up there, but I didn't play a good playoff. My putting was off, and I didn't trust my stroke.

There's good and bad to it. I've come this close, so I'm doing something right, but the end product hasn't been there. I kicked myself a few times, but then it was time to get over it and move on, and I've done that.


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