Golf Psychology - The Pre-Shot Routine - Phil Mickelson and the O & S of OSVEA

Joe Culverhouse
  • Author: Joseph Culverhouse
  • Manager - GLT Content and Communications
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Phil Pre-shot


In today’s installment of GLT’s Golf Psychology series, The Mental Game of Golf, we are going to take a closer look at the O & S portions of OSVEA by examining the pre-shot routine of Phil Mickelson.

Phil Mickelson is known for many things on tour. His attire, courage in the face of adversity, attitude, and his… let’s just say leveraging of fiscal risk-reward opportunities all make Phil an individual in a field of what often seems to be one white-belted generic male after another. However, what arguably sets Phil apart from many of his competitors the most is what he does during the portion of his pre-shot routine that corresponds with the O & S portions of OSVEA: the ability to understand and process multiple pieces of information when observing the situation and selecting the appropriate course of action – a process known as chunking.

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In an interview with Golf Channel’s David Fehrety, Phil provided a level of insight to his preshot routine that had previously been unshared. The level of processing involved staggered many.

“In my practice, I build a reference. So, I can hit the same shot over and over, building a 9-iron that goes 145 yards, let’s say. Now, that will vary based on temperature and altitude, which will change with time of day and whatnot as well as wind and those effects. One of the things people might say is, ‘I hit my wedge 120.’ Well, you might hit your wedge 120 under certain conditions, but in the morning, ball’s not going to go 120. Maybe in the afternoon when it’s warmer and ball heats up. But it’s going to go five to 10 yards shorter in the morning. People don’t factor that in.”

Textbook chunking. Phil went on to explain many of the factors he considers during the observation (O) and selection (S) portions of his pre-shot routine. Grain direction, type of grass, temperature, wind, altitude, moisture on the club, these are just some of the things Phil – and golfers longing to play at such a competitive level- consider, or should consider, before ever approaching the ball.

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“All the things I have to factor in when I look at the lie, ‘How is the lie, and how is the ball going to come out relative to my 145 9-iron? What’s the lie going to do? What’s the temperature? What’s the wind? How do I want the ball coming into the green? These are the nuances that allow me to be so precise with my wedges and my short irons,” Mickelson concluded.

Hey, if processing all of these during the observation and selection phases of his pre-shot routine, what equates to the O & S of OSVEA, works for Phil Mickelson, it will work for you. Like Phil, you can bet on it!

Next in our golf psychology series, we’ll continue to discuss Phil Mickelson in relation to the O & S of OSVEA and how mastering the process provides a better understanding of the mental game of golf. 



Phil Mickeson