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The Key To Playing Better Golf

Golf swing thoughts, or golf swing mechanics, should primarily be used for the purpose of learning a new motion (developing motor memory), or refining a motion that needs improving. This training should only take place on the range or when swinging around the house or office—definitely not while playing golf!

When you arrive at the range on a playing day, and throughout your round, clear your mind of swing thoughts. Your focus should be on where you want to hit your ball—your target—and how the ball is going to get there. When on a tee, look ahead and pick a spot from which you would like to hit into the green (another advantage of focusing on targets is it forces you to think ahead) and do your best to hit it there.

This sounds easier than it is. Very few people are able to hit a ball without swing thoughts because that is how they practice. This takes training.

If you are going to give it a try, work on it for at least a few months, preferably a little on the practice range at first. For at least the first month it will be a struggle—this is a different way to play golf. As you get used to playing without swing thoughts, you will get a glimpse of a new game—the game good players play!

There are two benefits to learning how to play this way. First, it gets the mind out of the way so the body can do its thing without interference, which is the real purpose of swinging this way and, secondly, you can improve ball control by getting much more defined feedback as you focus on targets. Let's look at two scenarios to see why:

1) When you stand on a tee and aim in a general direction down the fairway, anytime your ball ends up in the fairway, you have hit your target—you have accomplished your goal. Somewhere in your brain you are rewarded for your achievement, even though it was a weak achievement.

Scenario 2) When you stand on the tee and you aim at a sprinkler head that is 7 yards in from the left rough and 263 yards out and your ball ends up 248 yards out and 5 yards in from the right rough, you have missed your target by approximately 20 yards. Even though the ball is in the fairway, possibly in great position, you have missed your target by a wide margin. No reward this time! With specific targets, being rewarded for only the best of shots will help you develop into a better ball striker.

I would like to end this page with an excerpt from the October, 1997 issue of Golf Digest in which a 1987 interview with Ben Hogan was reprinted. The interviewer was Nick Seitz.

Seitz: There is a modern theory that when you warm up before a round you don't want to be worried about your swing, you just want to get loose. But it was serious practice with you, wasn't it?

Hogan: I didn't just go out there and hit balls. I tried to narrow this thing down. If I aimed to a tree out there, I wanted to try and hit that tree. Because that is what you do on the golf course: You aim at a specific target.

Seitz: You were thinking target with every practice ball.

Hogan: That's right, because you do it on the golf course. Why go out there and merely take calisthenics and run to the first tee?

 

Casey Eberting Golf Instruction
Houston, Texas

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