This golf setup preshot routine golf lesson describes in detail how to move into position for a golf shot on the course and how to setup to a golf ball and aim the golf shot. Specific steps just for the setup itself are available by clicking: How to Setup for a Golf Swing.
Start by selecting your club and picking a specific target – don’t just aim at the green or the fairway – look for a tree in the distance or a spot in the fairway making the target as narrowly defined as possible. They say Ben Hogan would get so specific he wouldn’t just pick a tree; he would pick a knot on the tree to aim at.
We tend to hit where we look, so don’t look at the OB, the water, or all the glass on the side of the million-dollar home to the right of the fairway. Also the brain does not process the command “not” or “don’t” in executing a motor skill like swinging a golf club. It works by pictures – when you say to yourself, “don’t hit it into the lake,” your mind’s eye sees the lake and hits the ball in the lake.
OK, back to the preshot routine. You have already selected the golf club and a specific target. Go ahead and grip the club and take a couple of practice swings behind the ball maybe 10 feet behind the ball while standing on or near the target line. Now you are loose and it’s time to move into the ball.
You are directly behind the ball, gripping the club and holding it out in front of the chest as recommended in my setup article and video. It may help to pick an “intermediate target” like a leaf or discolored spot one or two feet in front of the ball directly along the target line.
Walk along the target line keeping the club out in front of your body as you gradually start lowering the club toward the ball. Do not walk past the ball – stay somewhat behind it relative to the target. You need to get the clubhead down early well before setting the feet in position. Go in with the clubhead first, then right foot and finally left foot. Clubface should point straight down the target line (through the intermediate target if you picked one) with the leading edge of the clubface perpendicular to the line, and the body should be oriented so it’s perpendicular to the face and the shaft. This is easy to do provided you don’t have a forward press which leans the shaft toward the target and ruins the “T-Square” alignment of shaft and body.
To really see this “T-Square” relationship at setup, try laying a 2”x4” or golf club shipping box along the target line. Now bring the leading edge of the clubface up squarely against the back of the board or box and orient the feet and body so they are perpendicular to the club shaft(the T-square), yet parallel to the board or box.
Now you are in perfect position – clubface is aimed squarely at target; butt of club is aligned with belt buckle to ensure the body is at perfect right angles to the shaft and clubface; feet, knees, hips and shoulders are all parallel to target line as though aimed down the inner rail of a railroad track while the ball and clubface are along the outer rail. Now simply make a couple of waggles to stay loose and then fire the swing.
Lastly, if you can’t seem to take your game to the course, it’s usually because you didn’t really practice it at the range. You may have practiced your golf swing but not the golf game. So practice the setup and the preshot routine at the practice range. Get accustomed to stepping away from the practice station, selecting a club and then targeting and walking back into the golf ball. Hit one shot and repeat; you may be surprised by the results. Don’t wait until you get to the golf course to try it.