Pre-shot routines are a must if you want to become a serious golfer. They are the corner stone of my game when I am focused on scoring low. The days of just walking up to the ball and whacking away are long gone and as a result I have taken a great deal of time developing a pre-shot routine that is effective, efficient and does not take a great deal of time. There is a happy medium between a routine that sets a player up for success or is a detractor for them and their playing partners. I cannot say with certainty what the proper combination is for each player, but I do know when I see a routine that is detracting and might need some honing.
Over the years of playing, I have experienced many pre-shot routines that were a distraction for the player and their opponents. I have watched players take minutes lining up putts, following their routine, only watch them miss every putt. I have experienced players on the tee waggle their club so many times I thought they were sweeping their front porch. I have watched players establish a club selection on every shot that takes minutes only to under club each shot. I could go on, but I think you get the point. These players (and admittedly myself) waste so much time fidgeting over and around the ball, that their routine becomes a hindrance instead of a helpful tool.
The aspiring professional on the left has 40 seconds of club waggle. I am not sure exactly what is going through their minds, but I would find this pre-shot routine frustrating as I waited for them to hit their ball. I realize this is a personal problem, but I cannot help but wonder if this routine hurts the player because of the long delay of standing over the ball and making a swing. Of course, only that player and their coaches will know the real answer to my musings, but I am sure they have thought about it over the course of their training sessions.
To be fair, there are some golf shots that do take longer to make than others. Usually, a player is in a difficult lie, has an obstacle to navigate, or the weather conditions are playing havoc on their game. These, and other instances, take more time that is eaten up in the decision making process of the pre-shot routine. However, once the decision is made, I do not see why it would talk a long time over the ball to make a swing. It could be that my game has been grooved to a point where I can just step up and hit the ball. Or, I have accepted that my game will not improve that much where I need to spend the amount of time others do hitting the ball.
On a slightly different thought (only because it just jumped into my head), maybe I value playing quicker more than saving the odd stroke or two. Playing in 3.5 hours instead of 4.5 hours is worth the 2 or 3 strokes I lose from playing quicker. I am not entirely sure if this is the case, but during a friendly match I am sure it has something to do with my pre-shot routine. I know during competitions, I take a bit longer (maybe 5 seconds) to focus on my target before going through the pre-shout routine. Again this is mere seconds.
As I state earlier, a pre-shot routine is very important. It sets golfers up for success and I recommend every player develop one that works for their game. Mine has evolved over the years and fits my current playing abilities. I know this is a popular topic at The Grateful Golfer, but that is because it is a very important topic to all aspiring golfers.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!