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Ed Answers: This shouldn’t be too difficult for you to master. I love to create changes in a ball flight without asking the student to think about something different DURING your swing. Unfortunately, most instruction is filled with the advice of someone telling you to do this, this, this, this, and that during the less than two seconds it takes you to execute the golf swing. OUCH!
If you are thinking about more than one thing when you swing a golf club, then it’s probably one too many. Instead, if you take a moment to understand the imperative elements that are involved in a solid golf shot, learning how to implement these things becomes a LOT easier. With success comes confidence, with confidence comes good shots, with good shots comes FUN! And if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing! So let’s have some FUN!
We can start by being sure that you are trying to accomplish the ‘right’ things in any given swing. My belief is that if you understand what you are trying to do and you have confidence that you can do it, then swinging a golf club doesn’t have to be with a mind full of ten different swing thoughts. All you have to do is know what you want to do, then set-up to the golf ball in the right way, now simply DO IT!
For example: Your question is about trajectory in pitch shots within twenty yards of the green. Let’s start from a conceptual point of view. Remember that all good golf shots are created when the clubhead moves downward through the ball. The clubface always strikes the ball first and then continues downward so that the low point of the swing arc is approximately four inches in front of the ball. This concept is important to get in your mind. Intuitively, you may think that you can ‘help’ the ball in the air by adding loft with a ‘scooping’ action of our hands. Unless you have the skill of a tour player to correctly manipulate the clubface in this manner, this doesn’t help at all. Typically, when a person tries to ‘scoop’ the ball they end up breaking down/cupping the left wrist (this is not good – a flat left wrist at impact is ideal) and the clubhead arc is shallowed through impact. Anytime the ball is on the ground, the clubhead should swing down! So, lose the idea of needing to help the ball into the air. Simply set your mind to swinging the clubhead down through impact.
Here’s a fun practice drill for you: Find a grassy space at home, a field, or the golf course practice range where you won’t get in trouble for taking a bunch of divots. Put a golf tee in the ground – that is now your imaginary golf ball and the tee identifies your ball position at address. Assume your golf typical golf stance – now, practice swinging the clubhead down through the tee and allow the clubhead to find the lowest place in its arc that is three to four inches in front of the ball (your tee in the ground).
Let’s also check your pre-swing set-up:
I know these things will help you with changing your trajectory on short pitches. Of course, I always recommend that you locate an excellent PGA teacher/coach in your area who will help you with your game.
Question: I just finished a very frustrating season of high school golf. Instead of lowering my stroke average, it was almost three shots higher than the previous year! My father, who watched almost every match, has told me repeatedly that I seem to lose my concentration while I’m playing. I’ve tried really hard to stay fully concentrated on golf throughout the round but I just can’t do it. I only have one more year of high school golf left . . . Help!!! SA, Richmond, VA
Ed Answers: You are trying to do the impossible! In a study of all skill level golfers, it was demonstrated that only 2% of all the time you spend on the golf course is actually spent hitting and watching your golf ball. In the long history of tournament golf, (from old Tom Morris, to Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods), no one has ever maintained their “concentration” for a four+ hour round of golf. In fact, let’s make it even easier, don’t “concentrate” at all. Instead, save yourself and your mind for the important moments during a round by following these steps: Begin to bring your mind into focus as you are approaching your ball. Mentally assess your situation (lie of ball, distance to and location of hole, any factors which may influence your club selection/shot), then slip into your pre-shot routine and play your shot. Finish this off by watching your shot and learn from the result. Then allow your mind to ease into your previous non-stress mode until you approach your next shot.
You will be amazed at the improvement in your scores as soon as you get used to and adopt this method of playing the game. As Walter Hagen once said, “Don’t hurry, don’t worry, and be sure to smell the flowers.” Consider the following thoughts and concepts to help your game. 1) Remember, the great players maintain their focus for short periods of time as they approach their ball. They center their thoughts in a positive manner by focusing on the process involved in creating the shot in front of them. They don’t waste mental energy by worrying about the impending result. 2) The importance of a consistent pre-shot routine AND your proper use of it! 3) Don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of your local PGA teaching professional.