Pre-Shot Routines – The Perfect Way To Make Great Golfers Look Silly

One of the key skills a golf pro will try to get across to a learner player is the importance of having a simple pre-shot routine to follow before you hit every shot.

Yet, when you see what the likes of Keegan Bradley does on his pre-shot routine, is this really a help to the golfer?

Or do you suspect, as I do, that it is an elaborate move by Bradley to lull his playing partner to sleep and thus take the victory?



To be fair to Keegan Bradley, he has worked hard over the last couple of years to minimise the amount of time and processes that he goes through on a typical shot. This is not a vilification of him as a player. He is certainly not alone in having an unusual and lenghty approach to playing his shot.


As you can see from the video below, compatriot Jason Dufner has a shorter, but no less distinctive pre-shot routine which has become known as the “Dufner Waggle”.

It doesn’t seem to harm the chances of either player. Both are Ryder Cup players and both have won a major Championship and are inside the top 20 in World Golf.



It’s clear from watching the video that players have a fine understanding of how they each prepare for a shot and while Dufner and Bradley, who are good friends on and off the course, find each others foibles amusing, there are those who are less enamoured. Lee Westwood complained recently that the biggest problem facing golf was rounds lasting over 5 and half hours.


Elaborate pre-shot routines certainly don’t help shorten that time scale. Especially when you are playing with someone who does the following on every shot (Incidentally, it’s the guy in the black you need to watch).



It’s not just amateurs though. Kevin Na, he who once shot a 16 at the Valero Open in Texas, is renowned in golf for being one of the slowest, if not the slowest player on tour. Imagine being a playing partner having to put up with this every shot.



Yet I have a little sympathy with Kevin Na. I think what you are seeing here is not a player deliberately trying to slow the game down, but one with a clear ‘mental block’ when it comes to some shots which makes him unable to commit to the shot in a sensible amount of time.

Undoing this mental lockdown is very tough. Just ask any golfer who has suffered with the ‘Yips’ when standing over a putt. It isn’t easy and it is easy to forget that while our muscles and body movement may dictate the shape of our swing, it is our brain that gives the go ahead to pull the trigger.


More of a concern for me than the top golfers, who I can understand may need extra time to consider a shot because they are playing for their tour card, ranking points, huge sums of money and places in Ryder Cup, President’s Cup teams and Fedex Cup qualification, is when our friend in black ambles onto the local course.


It is hard to define the frustration of being a two-ball behind a fourball who won’t let you play through, when one or more of them has a pre-shot routine that has a nap-time built into it.  It is easy to understand why so many golfers are put off weekend golf when a round that should take 3 hours, takes almost double because Harry the Hacker in front cannot hit a shot without going through a 20 minute pre-shot routine each time.


Pre-shot routines are a psychological device to get your body ready to play the golf shot. As such, they should be short, sharp, consistent and relaxing allowing you to make your stroke smoothly and within a stated time frame (20-30 seconds maximum in my view, ideally closer to 10-20 seconds).

Any longer than that and you should ask yourself if your routine is helping you, or hindering you as a player.

As its certainly likely to be driving your playing partners and those playing behind you, crazy!


Cover image from Jason Dufner’s Facebook Page


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