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Golf tip: In big moments, stick to the routine

Stacy Lewis made a putt on the 18th green to halve her match during the final day singles matches of the 2013 Solheim Cup.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Stacy Lewis made a putt on the 18th green to halve her match during the final day singles matches of the 2013 Solheim Cup.

During every round of golf, we’re faced with a big shot. It might come on the first tee, or it might be on the last green. When the pressure is on, do you have what it takes to pull the shot off?

Paul Rudeen, the director of instruction at Ocean Edge Resort, is here to help. Let him paint the scene:

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“One more shot. One more shot over that pond and you will shoot your lowest round. You pull the club. You stand over the ball and look toward the target. The water looms ominously and you try to put it out of your mind. The water is not even there, you tell yourself. You grip and re-grip your club. Best round ever. Your forearms tighten and you look at the target again. You take a practice swing, then step in to hit the shot. You don’t even feel your hands getting tighter on the club. All you need to do is to knock it over the pond. You make your swing and knife a low burner that skips along the surface of the pond and sinks a few torturous yards short of dry land. You let out a hard breath. It seems as if every time you have a big shot, you blow it. There has got to be a rock nearby that you can crawl under.

“You are focusing on the wrong things. Develop a pre-shot routine incorporated with some controlled breathing. By doing the same things in the same prescribed amount of time every time, you will become focused on the process rather than the result. Results are out there in the future. You cannot control them. The only thing you can control is the process of the mission at hand.

“Watch the guys on TV. Watch how they approach each shot in their own particular way, every time. They may start behind the ball, and then take three steps into their setup. Maybe they are holding the club in their left hand. They may waggle the club a designated number of times while looking at their target. Find a routine that feels comfortable and stick with it. Whatever it is, make it repeatable. By treating every shot the same way, you will not give those really important gut-check shots more attention than any other shot. By not overemphasizing their importance, you won’t milk the grip till the cow screams. You will be focused on the process. This will allow you to stay relaxed and free-wheeling.

“Practice your pre-shot routine with a friend. Have them time you. With work, your routine should not vary more than one second from shot to shot. Remember, the quicker your routine, the less chance for negative thoughts to enter your mind.”

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.
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