How to develop a pre-shot routine for golf and how Bridgestone Golf's Mindset ball stamp can help
Equipment Instruction

How to develop a pre-shot routine for golf and how Bridgestone Golf’s Mindset ball stamp can help

A photo of Jason Day

When you're getting ready to hit a golf shot, what's your pre-shot routine?

Ask that question to 100 golfers, and you'll probably get close to 100 different answers. Many don't have a routine at all; they just do what they feel is right in that situation. Some have a pre-shot routine, but the player's brain is filled with too many thoughts -- often negative and too technical in nature -- before taking back the club.

The best golfers in the world, though, have a focused pre-shot routine that allows them to assess the situation, visualize the shot they want to hit, emphasize any necessary swing reminders, and then let the mind go blank to hit the shot.

There are different ways to visualize that whole process, and I tend to think of it as a reverse pyramid.

My pre-shot routine: Step by step

The first step is to figure out the particulars of the situation. I always need to know the distance of the shot, even if sometimes that's a minimum or maximum distance to clear or avoid something. I need to know the lie, and I need to estimate the wind speed and direction. I often need to know the hole location so I can know where I can miss and where I can't miss.

The second step is to decide how I want the shot to look. Can I hit my stock high, straight shot? Should I try to draw it or cut it? Am I taking a full swing or a partial swing? Do I want to go hard at it? Should I dead-hand it to get the ball to run out? Do I want to hit it lower because of the wind or an obstacle in front of me? Ideally, where do I want the ball to land on the green? Should it be at the pin, short of it to run up? I don't ever want to be long.

The third step is to go through my pre-shot routine. I take the shot I'm visualizing, see it one time in my mind's eye, and then I take one practice swing to take what I've thought up and simulate it. I take my aiming point in the distance and follow it all the way to a spot about 18 inches in front of the ball. If this is a tee shot, I make sure my ball is teed with the alignment aid pointing right at where I want to start the ball.

The last step is to let my mind go blank. When I'm over the ball, there's no more thinking after I line up the shot. All the thinking has been done, and now it's time to execute. For me, my trigger is an ever-so-slight press of the shaft forward, and then I swing.

Whether the shot is good, medicore or poor, the process is incredibly important. The best thing a golfer can do is to take out as many variables as they can from a game where there are so many out of their control.

How you get to a great, helpful, consistent pre-shot routine is up to you, but the details matter.

Recently, Bridgestone Golf introduced an alignment aid concept called Mindset that I think can be helpful for a lot of golfers. The visual aid is stamped on their new Tour B golf balls, and it features a design made in consultation with staffer Jason Day. The stamp features three (nearly) concentric circles, meant to focus the golfer on a three-step pre-shot process. The biggest circle is red, and that's when a golfer should identify their target. The next circle is yellow and represents when a golfer should visualize the shot they want to hit. The third circle is a solid green, meant to be a representation of a green light to go. Focus on that green dot and hit the shot. In front of the three circles is also a small alignment line to help golfers set up to where they want the ball to go or start.

I've played several rounds using Mindset, and I liked the experience of trying to use Mindset as a pre-shot guide. For golfers who don't have a pre-shot routine, much less one they trust, Mindset can be a great starting point. For visual learners, having objects to focus on and associate with certain steps in the process has to be helpful. For a player who is more likely to get distracted by their surroundings, focus on things that don't matter or get too mired in the details, Mindset can help them focus on specific actions in a logical process.

Does that mean a golfer has to use Mindset exactly as Bridgestone Golf or Jason Day intended? No, not at all. Maybe it's a slightly different process for each golfer. Perhaps they want to use the green circle as a reminder of how to strike the ball successfully. Maybe the exact meaning of each step is different. Nevertheless, the visual cue is great.

If you're a golfer who struggles to identify a pre-shot process, from assessment to swing, the Bridgestone Mindset technology is worth a look.


About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

Ryan talks about golf on various social platforms:

X or Twitter:

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.