Many golfers seem to have a problem with their short game. I don’t even mean this in terms of their technique. It seems to be more of a mental problem that gets stronger and stronger the closer they get to the golf hole. Is this you? This syndrome mustn’t be a physical problem. Topping the ball or hitting it fat during a chip or pitch is often related to a wrong motion of the wrists. But the question you should be asking yourself is – Have you used your wrists and hands correctly the day before on the practice tee? Maybe the following paragraphs can help to build a pre-shot routine.
If your shots were adequate on the driving range, putting green and pitching green you can be sure that your technique is good enough to perform the desired shot without any pressure. So the difference has to be the mental pressure. Mental pressure is a subjective thing, though. This means that the wrong performances of your wrists were a result of your thoughts and not of a faulty technique.
A good chip or putt comes from your inner dialogue just as much as it comes from your technique. You probably know a golfer who seems to have a horrible technique but is still able to perform good shots when he’s under pressure. He probably has a good mental routine. And you should develop and have one of your own. As everything in golf you have to practice it to make it work. So don’t forget to work on your pre-shot and after-shot routine (meaning the short period of time just before/just after you hit the ball) when your are on the driving range or practicing in general.
You should divide your pre-shot routine into two parts. Use the first part of your routine to think and the second part to take action. Think about which club you want to use. Visualise where the ball is supposed to land and what it’s supposed to do after it hits the ground. Take one or two practice swings with the exact tempo you intend to hit the ball with. Convince yourself that the practice swings would bring you the desired result.
The second part of your routine should be focused on hitting the ball. Think about your aim, grip, alignment and ball position. Don’t think about your technique and ability to actually hit the ball. Ideally you shouldn’t be using more than five seconds to think about these things. Thus you won’t have enough time to doubt your own decisions and you’ll focus on your swing completely. Don’t waste any thoughts about hitting it fat or skulling the ball. Trust in your preparation and swing away!
Accept that it won’t work out all of the time. You won’t be able to perform the perfect shot every time but you can try! A good shot that is too long or too short is much better than a lucky shot you won’t be able to repeat. It’s also a good habit to hold your finish with all your short game shots until the ball comes to rest. This way you’ll connect the outcome you see to the feeling of the swing you just performed. You’ll learn something with every swing you take.