A fascinating dimension of the golf journey has been an evolving search for a connection between a golf stroke and meditation.

The goal of a golf shot is for the golf ball to hit a target; and an available golf shot strategy is to create peak performance conditions by becoming one with the environment, the club, the ball, and the target. The puzzle is how one can deliberately create that “spiritual relationship” with the environment, the club, the ball, and the target, resulting in a golf ball at a chosen target. A conclusion is that the puzzle can be solved by creating conditions for oneness of the physical body and the mind.

Basic meditation guidance offers, “…posture is like a foundation and is quite important for a resting mind: as the body goes, so goes the mind; as the mind goes, so goes the body. Good posture facilitates the easy flow ofthe breath, too.” [Dr. John Edwin DeVore (2006). Sitting in the Flames: Uncovering Fearlessness to Help Others. North Charleston, South Carolina: BookSurge. Appendix A: Basic Meditation Instructions, 199]

Recently, Track Man golf lessons offered the author needed serious work on posture—video told the complete story, upper back, shoulders, and head tipping forward during set-up. After some work during lessons, at the gym, and on the course, playing experiences were noting that the golf game was at its best. A couple mornings ago it dawned on the author that perhaps the answer to the improved golf game could be found in the relationship between set-up posture and a quiet mind, “…as the body goes, so goes the mind; as the mind goes, so goes the body.”

 Pre-shot Routine[1]

The Pre-shot Routine ensures that the goal of every shot is crystal clear, and that the motivation is created to sustain the desired result. The typical golfer wants pre-shot routines to be the same for each type of shot from one shot to the next, and each time you go through the routine, you want it to take approximately the same amount of time.

Two tools for pre-shot routine are attention and intention. Attention is the tool of the mental body and is the what of our focus—single-pointed attention on the picture of the physical body in an environment swinging a club at a ball that is moved to a target. Intention is the tool of the emotional body and is the why of our focus. The quality of each shot experience is determined by how consciously attention and intention are wielded. The challenge is to be present to consciously use these tools to serve us physically, emotionally, and mentally for every shot—ground the physical body, elevate the emotional body, and focus the mind.

After typical shot preliminaries—relaxation techniques, target selection, checking the lie of the ball, planning strategies for wind direction and strength, estimating distance, and making the club selection—a sample pre-shot routine might look as follows:

  1. Stand behind the ball on the ball-target line and make practice strokes to clear a busy mind and subconsciously program the swing necessary to move the ball to the target.
  2. Walk to the ball along the ball-target line mentally embracing the club, the optimum swing, the target, and the ball arriving at the target.
  3. Go to the breath to activate awareness. Focus on the in-out breath and begin to quiet the mind, release tension, and create space for awareness and trust of the well-programmed, subconscious mind.
  • Grip. Hands act as a single unit, not too loose and not too tight.
  • Aim. A right-handed golfer steps forward with the right foot and positions the clubface behind the ball perpendicular to the intended ball-target line.
  • As the clubface is aligned behind the ball, the golfer bends at the hips and engages the torso keeping the back straight with the back of the head aligned with a visualized line extending from the lower back to the back of the head. As posture is completed, parallel flow lines[2] of feet, knees, hips, forearms, and shoulders are aligned parallel with ball-target line.
  • Fine tune ball position, distance from ball, and dance to feel static and dynamic balance. Experiment with either weight on heels or on balls of the feet. A personal preference is weight on balls of feet for putting and on heels for scoring wedges and long clubs.

You are now ready for action with your unique ritual.


A good athlete can enter a state of body awareness in which the right swing-stroke or the right movement happens by itself effortlessly without any interference of the conscious will. This is the paradigm for non-action, the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dancer from the dance.[3]

 For every shot, the golfer needs to evolve a ritual for creating a personal teepee where the mind becomes clear and quiet[4] and the programmed subconscious is given absolute trust to deliver a shot. In 1929, legendary Bobby Jones remarked,

 The golf swing is a most complicated combination of muscular actions, too complex to be controlled by objective conscious mental effort. Consequently, we must rely a good deal upon the instinctive reactions acquired by long practice. It has been my experience that the more completely we can depend upon this instinct—the more thoroughly we can divest the subjective mind of conscious control, the more exclusion of all thoughts as to method—is the secret of a good shot…After taking the stance, it is too late to worry. The only thing to do is to hit the ball.[5]

It could be argued that pulling the trigger to make the shot is the most critical of all elements of the shot cycle, and it may be the simplest and yet possibly the most difficult because it must be done without thinking and with absolute trust of the subconscious to perform to expectations. As we settle to create the space bubble—the state of relaxed concentration—we are deliberately breathing. The ritual is automatic and is the one distinct stimulus that will trigger and coordinate all the elements that facilitate emergence of the peak performance state. We are empty and the trigger is absently pulled.

This evolving master skill is individually unique and is the state of being present, tension-free, with that which is intended for as long as intended.[6] Summon the inner artist for a remarkable and often indescribable zone experience of spiritual oneness; and be witness to freedom and an intuitive unleashing of a unique, creative, synchronous flow of human physical activity. Simply relax and put your awareness where your deepest natural breathing originates—sensed image approximately 1½ inches below your navel. Let breathing be deep and full, shake loose any tension in the muscles, and trust that as center is experienced, there is seamless unity of body, mind, and spirit, setting the stage for “sweet impact” and zone performance. Well-practiced actions will result naturally without effort. A quick and dirty ritual checklist for every shot must include the following:

  • Ground. Take a couple of deep breaths and visualize energy circulating between your feet and the earth below you. Feel static and dynamic balance and sense a balanced and solid foundation and the environment surrounding you.
  • Take three to five short, explosive breaths into the upper chest to activate the sympathetic nervous system, increase oxygen, and intensify subtle energy currents. Charge the whole body, physically and emotionally, preparing for the exertion to come. Make a final visual touch of the target.
  • Relaxed focus. On an out-breath, one-pointed concentration on the point of impact of club with ball(mindfulness), channeling all body energies into a laser beam of relaxed, focused concentration, letting go of everything (self-restraint) and sensing the synchronous, flowing swing to impact with a ball creatively floating to the target (awareness).

Squeeze Trigger. With absolute trust, subconsciously trigger the tension-free swing.

Good set-up posture and a quiet mind can create conditions for optimum performance, “…as the body goes, so goes the mind; as the mind goes, so goes the body.”








[1] Design pre-shot routines that work for you. This routine is offered as only input.

[2]Pelz, 100.

[3] Mitchell, S. 2006. Tao te ching. New York, NY: Harper, viii.

[4] Shoemaker uses “clear and quiet state-of-mind” in Extraordinary Golf. This concept has also been referred to as relaxed concentration (Gallwey) and flow state (Csikszentmihalyi).

[5] Gallwey, 19–20.

[6] Shoemaker, Extraordinary Putting, 8–10.

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