If you asked ten average golfers what the most important shot in golf is, you’d probably receive several answers. The Driver. Chipping. Ten-foot putts. Approach shots. They’d be naming shots that they most likely struggle with or they’re repeating an answer that echoes through the golf world.

If you asked ten professional golfers which is the most important, their answer may be very different. When listening to the next winner of a PGA Tour event give an interview following the conclusion of play, listen to them carefully. You’ll hear them speak about the next shot, taking one shot at a time, not getting ahead of themselves, or some variation of staying present in the present moment and focusing on the shot at hand.

If you want to lower your score, it’s not just about improving your approach shots. Of course, you need to find the fairway and avoid hitting a second shot off the tee. You can avoid the bunkers or build the skills to escape them successfully. Working on avoiding three putts is certainly helpful. Spending time developing your skills in any given area is a forever pursuit and is very necessary to play your best golf. Developing the ability to focus on one shot at a time and giving the shot at hand your full attention is a skill that needs to be cultivated as well. After more than 15 years of teaching, I’ve seen many strokes thrown away out of a reaction to the last shot or the anticipation of the next shot.  Most golfers are capable of great shots. Your highest potential can be unleashed when you stay attentive to the shot in front of you.

How to take care of “This Shot”

How do you create such attentiveness and develop an ability to focus? The entire experience of golf can make that difficult. I would strongly urge you to pay specific attention to your routine. Having a routine can calm you down, bring you comfort, and bring your focus back to what’s in front of you. The most important thing about your routine is that it’s yours and that it’s specifically repeatable. Stand in the same place to line the ball up, take the same number of practice swings in the same location, include a steady gaze and a clear visual of what you’re going to produce, and have a simple, clear swing thought that does not vary from shot to shot. After the shot has been played, finish your routine with an evaluation of your process. Did you go through each stage of your routine? Did you skip anything or rush through any of the steps? Did you have a clear visual of your shot in mind? Did you commit to your swing thought? If you answered yes to each of these questions, you’ve given yourself a great chance to hit a great shot. If the shot doesn’t go as planned, do your best to let it roll off your back and start the process over again with the next shot.

Just like everything else in golf, success with your ability to play the shot in front of you will come with time, practice, patience, and a dedication to develop this skill. For further help with your routine or any area of your game, feel free to reach out to me or my staff of dedicated teaching professionals at The Calabasas Golf Academy.

Written by David Franks,
PGA Director of Instruction
The Calabasas Golf Academy