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In this article Jack discusses the importance of "routine" in Golf

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Jack Long . . . Facts, Fiction, Hope


Most of us know the conventional golf wisdom about the importance of “routines”. For example, in the wonderfully written and comprehensive The Golf Handbook (Vivien Saunders; Three Rivers Press, New York, 1989, 1997), the author states on page 150 that the player should:

“Work at a routine in which you repeat the way in which you prepare for a shot. This encourages repetition in the golf swing itself. Learn to do the same thing on the practice ground as you do on the course and, in turn, learn to do the same thing on the course as you do in competition.”

And, on page151, we are reminded to “Adopt a routine and always keep to it.”

Well, Ms. Saunders does a good job in giving us insights into the conventional wisdom regarding the alleged importance of establishing routines. The teachers of the game may be right with respect to routines. But, nobody seems to have seriously considered the proposition that devotion to inflexible pre-swing routines may not be the best approach for every player.

To the best of my knowledge, the theory which supports the importance of pre-swing routines has never been subjected to rigorous proof using the scientific method. That is to say, I am not aware of any clinically controlled, peer-reviewed studies which prove that an inflexible pre-swing routine is likely to result in a successful swing. I suspect that the prevailing theory of the importance of routines is based on intuition and what we call "common sense".

The advice in this article is based in part upon the conclusions set forth in the 1956 research paper "Comrade Marksmen: Savor Your Adrenaline And Don’t Be Sissyvicks About Changing Your Pre-Shot Routines" (this is a rough translation of the Russian title). According to the research paper (retrieved from the PCT Institute in Niblickvostock in the former Soviet Union; see the Endnote), the trainers of Soviet marksmen significantly increased pistol accuracy by teaching their students:

1.About the positive effects of increased, pre-competition adrenaline; for example, increased information flowing to the neuromuscular systems through the sense of touch, increased visual acuity, and an increased sense of awareness (this part of the research paper will be addressed in a subsequent article); and

2.To vary slightly their pre-shot routines in order to (a) promote actual "thinking" about the shot (as opposed to approaching the shot solely on the basis of routine and reflex) and (b) encourage reliance on their innate athletic abilities.

Based upon the Soviet research in the area of routines, and based on my own observations and experiments, I believe that some golfers will benefit from making slight changes in their pre-swing routines. One of my experiments involved asking eight golfers (four men and four women) to take a number of tee and fairway shots without wearing shoes, socks or watches. Sixty-two percent of the group reported an average of 18 to 30 yards in increased distances. Obviously, I am not suggesting that people should play golf without shoes or socks. The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether a change in pre-swing routines might result in greater distances.

I submit that golfers should experiment with slight changes to their pre-swing routines. For example, try a different waggle, a different approach to the golf ball, a different location for your bag, don’t hit the club on the ground before you take the shot (or hit the club on the ground before you take the shot), take two or three knee bends, and so on and so forth. And, it is important to keep in mind that you have some innate athletic ability upon which you may rely (otherwise, you would be playing checkers!).

A right-handed friend of mine was having "general" trouble with his drives and fairway shots, and some trouble in keeping his weight settled on the inside of his back foot. I suggested that he get an insert for his right shoe, cut it in half lengthwise, and put just the right half in his shoe. This did two things for my friend: it varied his routine (he had never played with shoe inserts) and it reminded him (and perhaps helped him) to keep his weight settled on the inside (the left side) of his back foot. I have to confess that I did not research this advice with respect to whether it violates any of the Rules. I don’t believe that it does, but the question has been on my mind. If any readers have any thoughts about this, please use the response box at the end of this article.

In conclusion, I submit that there is no harm in experimenting with slight changes to your pre-swing routine. If my theory is correct, you may have to make other slight changes after the passage of time since the original changes will eventually become "routine". If my theory doesn’t work for you, then go back to your routine. And, if my theory works for you, let me hear from you about what slight changes in your routine improved your swing. We would like to pass this information along to other golfers.

Endnote: Jack Long is a golf-theorist and founder of The Paranormal Golf Institute?. He is working on a series of articles based in part upon:

Cold War research documents in the field of paranormally controlled trajectories (PCT), documents recently discovered in the archives of the PCT Institute in Niblickvostock in the former Soviet Union; and

His own, and other recent translations of the Golfnostic Gospels unearthed last year in caves near the northern Egyptian city of El Sandtrapya.

10-­­­­Routines.4-03-06. No part of this article may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from Jack Long, PGI, 192 College Street, Burlington, VT 05401.

The other articles in the series can be found by clicking the links below.

Jack Long2

Jack Long3

Jack Long4

Jack Long5

Jack Long6

Jack Long7

Jack Long8

Jack Long9

Jack Long11