Is It Better To Take A Practice Swing Or Just Rip It?
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One of our readers, Ron, emailed us this week asking about pre-shot routines. He’s been having some trouble feeling confident over the ball before he hits it, and has been watching other people’s pre-shot routines to see if he could find the perfect way to approach the ball and set himself up for a good shot. He said he’s been seeing a lot of different approaches, from well-choreographed routines, to people just stepping up to the ball and hitting it. So, what’s the right way to do it?
Birdie: The Waggle To the unitiated it may seem like just a nervous tic, but Dufner's [pre-shot waggle](/golf-instruction/2012-10/photos-jason-dufner-consistency#slide=1) is part of the reason he hits the ball so squarely, ranking third in greens in regulation at Oak Hill. Could it inspire a new generation of wagglers? Time will tell, but as Tom Watson wrote in Golf Digest a few years back, plenty of amateurs would benefit from a move like Dufner's. "I see too many amateurs start the backswing from a static position," Watson wrote. "I think having a waggle before you start is important to avoid tension and establish good rhythm." If it can produce anything like the shots Dufner hit into Oak Hill's greens this week, sign us up.
Jason Birnbaum of Manhattan Woods Golf Club in New York says he’s not a proponent of just walking up to the ball and hitting it.
“I’m a big fan of pre-shot routines and practice swings,” says Birnbaum. “The cool thing is there is nothing set in stone and no one way to go about it. That's why we see so many different versions from the pros on TV. The key is to find one that is best for you.”
If you’re working on something specific in your swing, Birnbaum says that your pre-shot routine should include something that exaggerates the right feeling of what you’re focusing on in your swing.
“For example, if I have a student who whips the club too far inside on the takeaway into a very flat position, I will recommend they take a practice swing during their pre-shot routine where they feel the club going out and steep on the takeaway. Nine times out of 10, when they then make the real swing, they will meet in the middle and get into a very playable position.”
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