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golf pre shot routine

Why it’s time to ban pre-shot routines (yes, really)

Next into the Angry Club Golfer's Room 101 is pre-shot routines. Don't take it out on us just yet, let him explain
 

This putt couldn’t have been more than about a foot. And yet there he was – feet astride the hole – feeling for some imaginary break.

He moved behind, pushed out his putter to draw a line, and stayed there in silent contemplation.

It felt like an eternity before he moved up to the ball, swished once, swished twice, before he finally settled.

And then missed the putt. I bit my tongue, pulled my cap further over my brow, and tried not to scream.

Pre-shot routines have become an absolute blight on pace of play.

I don’t like it in the pros. It’s part of the reason we now endure six-hour TV rounds. But at our clubs? Who are we kidding?

See the shot, hit the shot. Not anymore. Now I must watch any number of elaborate waggles, half swings, truncated take-aways, and ridiculously single-minded focus.

All of which have precisely no effect on the results for the player with club in hand. The ball still slices.

This wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, though. Behold. He’d been told he was too crouched. It didn’t help that his spine was as crooked as Richard III’s. No amount of physics was going to change that biological fact.

pace of play

But anyroad, in a futile bid to get a better angle he would struggle onto the tee, get into his stance, and then try and stand up bolt straight.

He’d put his arms across his chest and then attempt to bend down into a golf position. Sounds straightforward, if a bit strange on the eye.

Except if he didn’t get it quite right, and that happened A LOT, he’d begin the process again. And again. We used to leave him standing on the tee.

This only narrowly beat the playing partner I once had who would take close on a dozen practice swings before each shot. If it was a tricky chip, it could be more.

We were first out and I’d made the entirely reasonable, but ultimately doomed, decision to schedule an appointment for early afternoon.

After an interminable round, where we had the whole course snailed behind us like it was the M25, I resolved never to be in his company again. I’d remove my name when his appeared next to mine on the booking sheet.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pace of play, of course. It’s unenforceable at our clubs. No one has the will to tackle it.

Our committees don’t want the hassle – who can blame them? – and those players on the slow side have worked out they can take as long as they like and no one will do anything more than gnash their teeth in the clubhouse.

It’s bigger than just pre-shot routines. But if we could save a few extra seconds each hole by trying not to mimic Jordan Spieth, wouldn’t that be worth it?

I won’t hold my breath.

What do you think? Does the Angry Club Golfer have a point on pre-shot routines and pace of play, or is he once again barking up the wrong tree? Why not tweet him and give him both barrels?

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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