Top 100 Teacher: This is the biggest difference between good and bad golfers

According to Top 100 Teacher Martin Chuck, the biggest difference between good and bad golfers can be seen before they even swing.

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There are countless differences between good golfers and bad ones, and you can probably even name a few distinctions yourself. They have different clubs. They dress different. They use different terminology. And, obviously, they swing different.

However, according to one GOLF Top 100 Teacher, the biggest difference between good and bad golfers is not on the list above. In fact, the largest distinction can be seen before a player even initiates their swing.

“The simplest thing is poor routine,” Martin Chuck says. “The best players have a routine that puts them into almost a subconscious trance.”

woman teeing up golf ball
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Exhibit A: Tiger Woods. While his swing was (and is) among the best of all time, it’s his repeatable pre-shot routine that put him in position to succeed over and over.

“Every time he would decide on his shot — the moment he took a step toward the golf ball until the ball was in the air was pretty much spot-on timing,” Chuck says. “I could take a brand-new golfer and teach them how to walk into a golf shot and you would think they are fantastic golfers. All it would take is me teaching them the routine of a good player.”

The best pre-shot routines calm the mind and put you in a mental state that allows for a solid swing. Chuck likens a good pre-shot routine to triggering an “auto-pilot mentality.” And even if you don’t hit a good shot every time after going through your routine, you are at least eliminating a variable and controlling one more thing in the process.

“That little dance prior to hitting a shot really separates poor players from good players,” Chuck says. “And that’s something you don’t even have to hit a golf ball to learn.”

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Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.