A Lesson Learned: Pre-shot routines lead to great golf

Harrison Frazar
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Harrison Frazar's ability to focus was pivotal in earning him his first PGA Tour win.
Ted Eleftheriou

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, June 13, 2011 | 12:00 a.m.

Wow! Another playoff! What's that... like 137 this year! Actual I think it's 11, with 16 being the record for a season. Congratulations to Harrison Frazar for his first PGA TOUR victory! Well done!

Tournaments aren't really won on playoffs though... are they? I mean it's the incredible bunker shot, or the 32' putt made, or the "up and down" made from 25 yards during regulation rounds that force playoffs. Which also means, that tournaments aren't lost on playoffs either, but because of poor shots during regulation rounds.

When poor shots do happen during a round, rarely is it because the swing changed. Just think how hard you worked on trying to make even a little change. You probably spent days... weeks... months... even YEARS on incorporating that change into your game. No... the swing usually doesn't break down during a round, something changes mentally. Like the realization that you are in the lead, or the awareness of people watching you, or an image pops into your head of your ball slicing and ruining someone's BBQ! Ugh!!

In the match between Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar, they were very consistent with their pre-shot routines on every shot. Everything was very deliberate... with purpose... and focused (as in VERY focused!).

For example, on the 14th hole during regulation play, a train whistle could be heard in the background while Frazar was about to hit. During his pre-shot routine… obviously distracted by the train whistle...he stepped away. He regrouped, went through his routine again, and hit a great shot on a very difficult par 3. Had he NOT stepped away but instead proceeded to hit (how many times have we done that?), well... who knows what the outcome might have been.

So developing a good pre-shot routine for the golf course is instrumental for settling your nerves and keeping you focused on the shot at hand.

Here's what I suggest...
1.) VISUALIZE the shot. Before even choosing a club, take into consideration the target, distance, ball lie, wind, weather, obstacles, etc... and decide on the type of shot you want to hit. Only then should you choose the club. This is why pros leave their clubs in the bag until they've considered all the options.

2.) FEEL the swing you want to make during your practice swing and rate your practice swing on a scale of "1" to "10" where "1" is poor and "10" is awesome! Only, if you would rate your practice swing (think of it as a "rehearsal" of the swing you want to make) an "8," "9," or "10," would you then proceed to the next step. By the way, on the course you should limit your practice swings to two.

3.) SET UP to the ball now... focusing on fundamentals: grip, stance, posture, ball position, and alignment. What I call "controllables," because you have total "control" over these, meaning there is no excuse for sloppiness. And while you're at it, spend more time looking at the target and less time at the ball... much like a baseball pitcher staring at the catcher's mitt before throwing.

4.) LET IT GO! You've done everything to prepare yourself for success, now it's time to just trust it and let it go!

One final thought... just as important as it is practicing the mechanics of your game... it's just as important to practice your pre-shot routine. I recommend going through your entire pre-shot routine on at least every third shot during practice.

Ted Eleftheriou is a PGA member and the Director of Instruction at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge located in Winter Garden, Florida. He works with people of all ages and abilities including LPGA, Futures, and Asian LPGA Tour players. Let him assist YOU with reaching YOUR golfing goals. Contact him at 407-905-2238 or email him at TEleftheriou@ocngolf.com.

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Ted has been my instructor the past few years and he really knows his stuff. He has changed the way I play and think about golf.

As with every new relationship, I was nervous, especially because of the confusion I felt in my swing. Ted was great as he made me feel comfortable and got to know me and what I was looking to do with my game. Ted is great at diagnosing any swing flaw and using positive coaching. Ted did not try to completely re-build my swing or teach me a rigid system. Instead Ted taught and reinforced good habits in every aspect of the swing. It was easy to remember and fun as well.

Ted uses simple memory aids so I can now re-call his teaching at anytime on the course. By strengthening theses good habits I have a great understanding of the swing and have learned how to diagnose flaws, even on the course. In the span of a few months, I went from scores in the low 90’s to the low 80’s
Ted’s strongest attribute is the strength of his character. He instantly makes you feel comfortable and is patient and positive at all times. You can feel his passion for the game and especially his passion for teaching. Ted not only taught me a swing but taught me how to think on the course. His knowledge of the swing is flawless and his methods can work for a player at any level, pro or beginner.
I would recommend Ted for anyone wanting learn golf that translates onto the course. He is a hidden gem in golf teaching, but not to those of us, tour players and those who just love to play, who have worked with him.

You can find him at Orange County National in Florida. You will not regret learning from this fine professional.