This week we saw the world number 1 golfer Dustin Johnson win The Saudi International, at Royal Greens Golf Club in Saudi Arabia. For the most part it seemed like a pretty comprehensive two shot win come the close of play on Sunday. However, there was a moment on Sunday afternoon which stood out for me more than anything else. DJ throughout the day had struggled with his putter, his ball striking was something to be admired but the missed opportunities throughout the day on the greens had allowed the chasing pack to close in on him and possibly leapfrog him on the closing holes.
The standout moment for me was after a missed par attempt on the par three 16th of about 5 feet, his lead was cut to 1 with two holes to play. At this point some players would have started to possible be on a downward spiral of emotions and get ahead of themselves after so many missed opportunities to put the tournament away, but what I found fascinating was how DJ reacted when he got to the 17th tee. He stuck to his routine like glue and smashed it green side on the downwind par 4 17th hole, with little to no emotion on what had occurred on the previous 16 holes of the day. As it transpired, an easy up and down from the front of the green, allowed for a peaceful walk down the Par 5 18th hole with a two shot cushion and win number two in Saudi Arabia in the past three years, I think its safe to say he likes the course and proved why at this stage he is world number 1.
Now my question to you... How would your routine have held up on the final round on Sunday? Do you even have a routine before each shot? If not, I would highly recommend implementing one, it makes a huge difference when placed in pressure situations like DJ found himself come Sunday afternoon.
There are many benefits to having a routine, but the three points that come to mind for me are as follows...
1, Gives you a clear intention on the shot you want to hit
2, Allows for a safety blanket in any situation
3, Helps you accept the outcome of the shot
Let me go into these points a little deeper...
Every routine will be individual to the player, no routine will be exactly the same and you need to find what works for you. Some players have a long routine that take in everything from technical feels, yardage, wind, rain and carry numbers. While other players keep it short and sweet, its all based on the individual but make sure you make it your own and repeatable, that is key.
1 - Clear Intention
I think it is vital that at the start of your routine a simple question needs to be asked to start the process off right... What does a good shot look like here? A very simple but effective question that leads only to a realistic and clear answer. It gives your brain the chance to visualise the shot you want to hit, to then allow your body figure out a way to move in a way to create the shot that you have decided on, a clear and focused intention.
2 - Safety Blanket
After picking the shot and having a clear intention, the routine part is down to you. Whatever you have decided to do in your routine, do it every time you hit a shot. Be it one practice swing, feeling the shot you want to create, or a simple trigger of pulling the velcro on your glove. As long as its repeatable and gets you in the same thought process each time, then it's doing its job and you can manage that process time and time again.
If you have gone through points 1 and 2 to the best of your ability, then you have done all you can in the process of hitting a good shot. Whether the outcome is exactly what you would have liked at this stage completely out of your control. But sticking to your routine, picking good golf shots and asking good questions of what the shot is required when you are playing, will give you the best chance to hit good shots but also accept the outcomes of where you ball ends up. It is then down to you to repeat the process until the ball is in the hole.
Next time you watch golf on television, check out the top players who are leading the event. See how they handle each shot and stick to a routine throughout the day. The example of DJ this weekend was a perfect example but Tiger has been at the forefront of this for many years. If we can learn anything from the best players in the world, golf is very unpredictable. However, if we can manage ourselves well, manage our routines, it gives us a good chance to play to our best in all different kinds of situations, what ever level of golf you may be at.
Give it a try, find a routine that works for you. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask and we will be happy to help.