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Garry Rippy Golf offers golf lessons, golf coaching, golf instruction, golf classes and golf schools in Austin, TX. This blog contains golf instruction articles, golf tips and golf instruction videos by Garry Rippy, PGA.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Pre-Shot Routine...Aim at Something!

I am at that point in life in which I could actually shoot the same score as my age!  With that goal in mind it has motivated me to get back to playing better golf.  Without giving away too much about my age, I was on my way to accomplishing this feat about three weeks ago.  I had it 4 under par going to the ninth hole and made a double bogey.  This was partly due to poor execution and a hole location on the severe side of playability.  I still managed a 3 under par back nine which got me close.

The reason I bring this up is I had discovered I was getting very lax in the aiming part of my pre-shot routine.  The one part of aiming which brought me back to hitting more greens was getting really focused on an intermediate target between me and my destination.  For some reason I had quit paying strict attention to this detail.  Since increasing this focus, I am hitting more greens in regulation and making less bogies. In fact, my last four rounds my greens in regulation is averaging about fourteen.

Missing greens, particularly on the wrong side was producing more bogies than birdies to off set them.  I have also started aiming at targets which may not include the flagstick or the middle of the fairway.  In other words if a hole location is near the edge of the green, a bunker or water hazard I am now aiming at a safer target.  I have been tracking my misses and discovering I do tend to miss more shots to the right of the flag than the left.  I am factoring this in to my aiming process.

In the picture below, the hole location is in the back right side of the green.  As an example, the orange circle would represent my shot dispersion with a pitching wedge, the burgundy would represent an 8 iron and the light blue would represent a 6 iron.  With this dispersion pattern, one can see with my tendency to miss shots to the right, I would be missing the green some with an 8 iron and more so with a 6 iron. In addition, being long or short is just as important, but I find direction is more of an issue than distance control for me personally.   I am now adjusting my aim so my misses will still either be on the green or much closer.  It was an easy fix, I just have to have the will power to not look at the flag when aiming.

Now that I know the general area I want to aim, I choose an intermediate target with precision.  I do this by using my club as a aiming rod of sorts.  I am on the practice facility in this picture and aiming directly at a flag about 80 yards away.  I try to line up the left edge of the shaft from the ball to my target and find my intermediate target.


In this case I have found a piece of grass about one foot in front of my ball as my aiming point.  Even when hitting a tee shot, I use this same philosophy.  The difference is I may be looking at something in the distance such as a tree, antenna or house as the target.  I then do the same process as above although when on the teeing ground, I find divots to be an easy intermediate target.  

When practicing you may want to use alignment rods to assist you with aiming.  Just remember the ball is on the target line and your feet will be aiming parallel to that line.  For right handers, you will feel your feet are left of the target and that is OK.

Obviously when practicing you will move the rod on the target line to about 1" to the right of the ball, but keep the line for your stance so you get comfortable with the feel of your feet in this position.  I will say you need to perform this process for every shot you hit on the range so you can repeat it with confidence on the course.  I recommend you leave the practice balls in the container they are in and hit one ball at a time with complete focus.  I find if you pour all the practice balls out, golfers tend to hit them rapid fire with no focus on target.

I am in no way promoting you to play slower!  Once you get your yardage and factor in the conditions, the entire process from pulling the correct club to striking the ball should be under 30 seconds.  In the video below I have already pulled the correct club and it took me about 15 seconds to hit the ball.  Do not wait until it's your turn to play to figure your yardage, etc.  When it's your turn to play, be ready.  

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