Ever misplace something and have your partner drone on about how you “wouldn’t have this problem if you’d just put it back in the same place we set up for you to put it”? Or is that just me? 

I’ve been known to misplace everything from my keys to my wallet to my phone, even when they’re in my hand — even though I bought a fancy bowl that sits by the door to hold all of these things I lose so often. 

Despite my own track record of losing things, routine matters and can make us sharper in areas that really matter — without overthinking them. Routine is important to help us remember things and do those things consistently. 

Golf is no different, and working on your routine can make you a better player. Take three minutes to think about what routines you have. Not just superstitions, like wearing the same socks or only using hot pink tees, but real routines. 

Here are some tips to maximize routine to improve performance on the course:

  • Logistics: Try to play generally around the same time each time. If you’re competitive, play non-competition rounds in the general time frame that your competitions usually start. If you’re a casual player, play in the time of day that you’re most alert and motivated. When you’re prepping your bag, keep things in consistent places. 
  • Pre-round routine: Prepare in the same way before each round. If you’re a coffee drinker, be consistent with how much you consume and how far in advance of the round. Be thoughtful in how you fuel your body and what you eat when to ensure consistent energy availability. If you like to head to the range pre-round, avoid the “just one more” trap and determine how many of each shot you’re going to play to warm up. 
  • Throughout-round routine: You should have a consistent pre-shot routine for each type of shot. Maybe it’s taking a deep breath, listening for the birds, seeing where the ball is going to land, and settling your feet. Maybe it’s reminding yourself of three key things to focus on during your swing. Whatever it is, do it every time. 

The goal of routine is to prepare our body and mind for a state of “flow.” Flow is when you are so in the moment, so in the zone that you totally kill it without even trying. It’s a little bit like being on autopilot. 

Consistency requires intentional planning, commitment, and diligence. Pick one or two things to try implementing each round and see what it does to your game.

Dr. Chelsi Day

Dr. Day is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is an Ohio native who completed her Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Health and Sport Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio while competing on the Varsity Swimming and Diving team as a diver. She then went on to earn a Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology followed by a Master's degree and later a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University New England in Keene, NH.