Sunday, 15 January 2012

Pre-shot routine? I close my eyes.

This week I’ve been getting out and about – on the course? Well yes, despite the weather, but also on Twitter (where I am now following amongst others my golfing heroine Catriona Matthew) and looking around the golf blogs. One post that has caught my eye is by Andy Roberts writing on Golf Magic about the  importance of pre-shot routine– that series of actions we do before each shot that gets us in the mindset to hit (we hope) an absolute cracker. I was particularly taken with the photo of Aaron Baddely with his eyes closed.

This cheered me up a lot, because after I’d been playing golf for a couple of years, my regular partners asked me why I closed my eyes on my back-swing, and didn’t it make hitting the ball that much more difficult? Now until this was pointed out to me, I hadn’t really being aware I was doing it, and so I can’t honestly call it a pre-shot routine but more of an unconscious habit. (And I’m guessing Mr. Baddely does it before addressing the ball rather than afterwards!) But if it doesn’t help me hit the ball better I don’t think it does any harm. For a while I did make an effort to keep my eyes open, but I find it’s something I fall back into and haven’t noticed any ill effects in terms of ball-striking.

So why do I do it?

Eyes wide open for a chip
Well there’s an element of concentration. It’s not so long since I was a beginner and prey to many swing-thoughts. If you’re set a hard exam question what do you do? You close your eyes to think about it. So that’s maybe where it came from. But reading Andy’s article made me think that maybe if anything it’s the opposite. Addressing the ball I usually still have a swing-thought of some kind – maybe the aspect I was working on in the last lesson, and I think that in closing my eyes I might actually blot out what’s going on in my head and let the body take over. Which must be a good thing.

Yesterday for instance in cold conditions and with an incipient back-ache I wasn’t swinging too well and was trying on each shot to improve my body movement.  None of which worked particularly well. But as it got towards the end of the round I made a conscious effort to relax and not think about it. I caught myself closing my eyes on the back swing – and hitting some much better tee-shots.

But going back to that old pre-shot routine, I think mine does need some attention. Long shots are fine, but I have particular problems with bunker shots and putting where the set -up is quite different. Maybe I need a set routine for those occasions.

Or I could try just closing my eyes!

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