How should you approach your next short game shot?

How to be task-orientated – and ensure that every time you step into a bunker you are ready to embrace the task at hand 

For as long as we can remember, we have been told that the 40-yard bunker shot is the hardest shot in golf – and because we have all been told it is incredibly tough to execute, we all buy into and believe that particular story. Just like any other story, including your own, if you hear and tell it often enough, it becomes the truth. Living in today’s world, we are all too aware of ‘fake news’, which used to be either lies or myths. Could it be that the 40-yard bunker shot falls into that category?  

We have allowed this shot, or a pitch over a bunker for example, to become such a massive obstacle because everyone tells us that it is, that when we have to play it, all we can think about is the perceived difficulty of the task. However, if we flip that on its head and start to view this shot as an incredible opportunity to show off our skills and get up and down for a par or birdie, suddenly there is a massive shift in our thinking and our attitude – and consequently our ability to execute the shot proficiently. 

What we perceive to be real, influences to an extraordinary degree, our capabilities. Think about it this way, if you choose to place more attention on the obstacle rather than the opportunity the situation provides, which do you think will ultimately prevail? 

While you may not be able to control the situation itself, you can control your perception of it, which will in turn influence how you deal with any given shot or situation. It is only when you include yourself in the situation and your ability to perform any given task – and this applies to life in general as much as it does a golf shot – that clutter overcomes clarity. 

How you perceive, or choose to perceive, any given predicament, will essentially lead one of the following outcomes: 

a) Perceive a shot to be difficult to the point of near impossibility and your mind will become busy with all sorts of negative, unhelpful thoughts about the potentially disastrous outcomes. Your attention will be focused on how on earth you are going to get out of this dreadful situation you have found yourself in. Consequently, your subconscious mind will try to find evidence to support these thoughts, inevitably leading to an inability to perform the task efficiently or effectively. 

b) Accept it for what it is, as just another golf shot, and it becomes an opportunity. We have all successfully dealt with much more challenging situations in our lives than a pitch shot over a bunker. What did we do then? We got on with the task at hand, completed it and moved on. 

Perception is everything. How you choose to perceive any shot or situation is entirely down to you. Is it a chore or a challenge? Is it an obstacle or an opportunity? 

Taken from The Lost Art of the Short Game by Gary Nicol and Karl Morris – with a foreword from Bob Vokey, the godfather of wedges.

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