IT’S YOUR MIND, NOT YOUR
THE MISS You are an above average player, with a handicap somewhere between 10 and 14. You have been at it for more than five years, and no matter how hard you practice, no matter how many lessons you take, or how deeply you have dived into the bottomless chasm of game improvement i.e. high tech equipment, fitness, swing aids, etc., you cannot break through that invisible force field and into that rare air breathed by the single digits. What’s going on?
THE CURE It is not your heart, it is your mind. The average or slightly above average player is caught in a mind warp of swing thoughts and expectations, while the advanced player lives in a world of visual images. It is that simple. The average player arrives at his next shot and thinks about keeping his left arm straight and his spine angle constant, and maybe one or two more thoughts thrown in for good measure. Swing thoughts are best realized on the driving range, practiced on the range, then left on the range. The advanced player sees the shape of the shot he wants to hit and allows his mechanics, which he has practiced on the range, to create the shape. The advanced player lets go of the mechanical side of the game and trusts himself to make a good swing. He may have a broad brush stoke thought like ‘smooth,’ or ‘finish.’ The intermediate player is still trying to be perfect and becomes tangled up in his own thoughts. If you have been at it for a significant period of time, and you are on an endless plateau of unsatisfactory results, it is time to make a big change in the way you approach the game.
MAKING IT STICK Training you muscles and training your mind are not mutually exclusive. You can train both on the practice tee with simple drills. Understanding what physical laws are in play to make a golf ball curve or fly in a particular way is a big step in training both. Once you understand the mechanics involved, set up drills to drive home the point. For example, if you want to hit a draw that starts slightly right of target (for the right handed players) and curves back left, you realize that an inside out swing path with a closed club face will do the job. Set up a work station on the practice tee and put a driveway marker pole two feet directly behind the ball on the target line, close the club face slightly, and hit shots until you own it. Then, to educate your mind, remove the pole and put it out in front of your work station about ten feet or so on the extended target line and hit shots with the sole mental image of starting the ball to the right of the ball and drawing it back. On the range it is mechanics first, mental image second. On the golf course it is just the reverse. During a round it is all about painting pictures in your mind and subconsciously allowing the mechanics to perform the shot desired.Read More