How to Think Your Way to Solid Shots

Thursday March 19th, 2009

This story is for you if...

• You shine on the range but fade on the course. • You tend to think about your swing during rounds.

The Problem

You practice your rear-end off, but you aren't seeing the results you expect when you play.

Why It's Happening

You've become too mechanics-focused. Thinking about your swing is fine when you're at the range, but when you're on the course and stepping into a shot, the last thing you want to think about is folding your right elbow, or how to trigger your downswing. You'll never play to your potential this way.

The Solution

Accept that you're going to play with the swing you have at that very moment. That means forgetting about it. Instead, focus on visualizing the exact shot you want to play to the exact spot on the green where you land it. When your mind sees something, it's almost 80 percent of the way to "doing" it. Follow these five steps to do it every time:

1. ASSESS AND SELECT Step off your exact yardage, get a sense of your lie and make a confident club selection. In the situation here, I'm 145 yards from the pin, and based upon my downhill lie and yardage I select a 9-iron.

2. DETERMINE SHOT SHAPE Stand behind your ball and visualize the line that your lie will produce. Here, I'm thinking that the downhill lie with the ball slightly above my feet will move the ball a tad right to left.

3. PICTURE THE BALL FLIGHT While standing behind the ball, visualize your ballflight and choose a point on the horizon where you want the ball to start. Here, I choose a "V" in the branches of the tree directly behind and to the right of the pin, and I picture the ball starting at that "V," turning a little right to left, landing on the green, taking two hops and rolling into the hole. Be specific with your imagination.

4. ADDRESS THE STARTING LINE Stand square to your start line and draw an imaginary straight line to your point on the horizon. Commit to this line, and use it to align your clubface, stance, hips and shoulders.

5. SEE THE RESULT As you start your swing, create an image in your mind of your ballflight once again. The better your visual image, the quieter your tempo will be, and the better your golf shot.

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