Casey Eberting Golf Instruction
West Houston, Texas

The Key To Playing Better Golf

As a Teaching Professional, my main goal is to improve a student's golf swing, which over time, will make that student a much better player. Because of the emphasis on golf swing mechanics and golf swing improvement, one may easily get the impression that this is what one should concentrate on while playing.

You, as a golfer, need to know that 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, your only thoughts should be of where you are going 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 playing target golf is it forces you to think ahead) and try your best to hit it there.

This sounds easier than it is. Very few people are able to focus on targets while they swing and instead fall back into their old habit of thinking about swing mechanics by the time they're ready to hit the ball.

If you are going to give target golf a try, work on it for at least a few months, preferably a little on the practice range at first, before judging its value. For at least the first month, I guarantee that you will have a mighty struggle—this is a different way to play golf. It will take time to become acclimated. As you get used to playing and practicing target golf, you will get a glimpse of a new game—a game in which golf is more in the mental realm than the physical. This is the game great players play!

Let's look at two scenarios. 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 very weak. 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 23 yards. Even though the ball is in the fairway, possibly in great position, you have not achieved your goal—it wasn't the shot you were trying to hit. 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?


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