Here’s a test. Look at the three photographs below and think, “What do I see?”
Most amateurs think, “I see a 30-yard wedge shot, a tough shot over sand, and a really scary lob shot over water.”
The correct answer is: “I see three pictures of a 30-yard wedge shot.”
In all three cases, the ball is the same 30 yards from the hole. And in all three cases, the shot — and more importantly, its execution — should be the same: Set up, make a few practice swings until you’re comfortable with your swing lengths back and through, then make the shot.
However, with the possible exception of the first shot (when there’s no hazard to carry), that’s usually not what happens. When there’s trouble, golfers see it and worry about it, so their chances of making good swings and hitting good shots drop — and so do the balls, into the water or sand.
No matter how often teachers tell students to concentrate on the target, they can’t seem to do it. They concentrate on the trouble and, as a result, they find it. Here’s a suggestion to help you concentrate on the shot and hit it well.
Stand behind the ball and look from it to the target, picturing the swing that will produce the shot you want. Then — and here’s the important part — turn 180 degrees away from the trouble and imagine making the same length swing and shot to a target the same distance from you (it can be a tree, bush, anything now in your line of sight). Make a few practice swings until you feel the one that’s right for the shot. Then turn 90 degrees (you’re still not facing the real pin and the trouble) and again make the same perfect practice swing. Finally, turn back to face the pin, set up over the ball, and make that perfect swing one more time. You’ll find your shot flying directly to the pin.
Once you learn to ignore the trouble and focus your mind on something you can control — your swing — those trouble shots won’t look so troublesome.