Tom Patri: Follow the pros: Get into a routine

Well folks, hate to bore you with the occasional teach/coach column, but really want to share this one with you.

The more I watch great players, the more I see one very common trait of truly consistent players: Routine, routine, routine.

Great players never, and I mean never, violate their routine. Never. Jack Nicklaus was the greatest ever at staying in the present, never dwelling on the past, or creeping into the future, therefore getting ahead of oneself.

Routines should be designed to fit one's personality. Lanny Wadkins, a former PGA champion and fast-paced personality, had a routine that included a fast, snappy waggle, and never took much time. Conversely, Jack, a methodically slow-paced personality, took radically more time to strike his shots. The point being, play to your style, and make sure your routine matches your personality.

More important, and first and foremost, please develop a routine that contains exactly the same steps. The time the routine takes should be scary consistent. Tour players have been known to time their routines, and try to get them down to the second. This leads to the next point: A routine needs to be practiced, just like your backswing does. You need to develop, refine and perfect the routine on the practice tee and test drive it for comfort on the course, before you put it under the pressure of competition.

Your routine should keep you from speeding up due to the frustration, for example, of a bad stretch of holes, and also keep you in proper tempo, should you go on a positive tear and get all pumped up. Remember, great golfers are really boring, they do the same exact thing, over and over again, and again. Develop a good, solid, sound routine, and be on the way to being a much more consistent player. Without a great routine, be prepared to fail.

On to a few other thoughts:

• Look for Tiger to go on a crazy tear now that he's won the British. That being said, I think Tiger leaves Hank Haney sometime before next season.

• Ernie Els will be back. He is too good not to return to form.

• David Duval will have a top 10 before year's end.

• Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer win this season ... please!

Oh yeah, one more thing: The Yankees catch and pass the Red Sox. Sorry, had to slip that one in there.

If you're not working on your flexibility, please start now; you'll be glad you did.

Tom Patri's teaching academy is at Lely Resort, with an indoor studio at The Health Club of Naples on Immokalee Road. Patri is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America. His book "The Six Spoke Approach to Golf" is available at bookstores and online. He can be reached at tpatri@mindspring.com. To set up a lesson, contact Brandi Hanson at 597-0787 or e-mail brandih@thehealthclubofnaples.com, or go to www.tompatri.com.

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