Only when you have clear intention can you begin to create the shot you want to hit
We create what we see. Is it possible that you could hit a good shot? Is it possible that the next shot you hit will be the best one you have ever hit in your life? What does the ball need to do to reach your intended target? What does a good shot look like?
Before you hit any shot, whether that be on the range or the golf course, whether it is with a driver, a 6-iron or even a three-foot putt, it is essential that you have a very clear picture of what the very best version of that shot looks like. Once you have a very clear intention, you then have somewhere specific to place your attention.
We are not going to suggest that everyone visualises every shot exactly the same way.
Some golfers see the ball flying towards their intended target with a high fade, others with a low draw. Some even see the ball flying arrow-straight towards its intended destination.
A lot depends on what shot is required, what shot you are capable of playing and what shot you are most comfortable with at that unique moment in time. A lot depends on your intention.
In Jack Nicklaus’s best-selling book, Golf My Way, he says:
“I never hit a shot, even in practice, without having a sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a colour movie. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white sitting up on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I see the ball going there: its path, trajectory and shape, even its behaviour on landing.
“Then there’s a sort of fade-out and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality and only at the end of this short, private Hollywood spectacular, do I select a club and set up to the ball.”
Talk about clarity! What is really fascinating here is that Jack has watched the whole movie before he has even selected a club. What we see at all levels, from weekend golfers to Tour Pros, is the player taking a club out of their bag because the shot they face is x yards, make a couple of practice swings and only then look at their target and try to create a mental image of the shot they are about to create. The sequence of events is somewhat different. Perhaps Mr Nicklaus was onto something all those years ago.
Isn’t it strange that when we have to shape a shot around a tree or create one with a lot of curve or height, we somehow manage to see that shot with amazing clarity?
In the book, Natural Golf, Seve Ballesteros said: “When in trouble, I always stand directly behind the ball, stare intently at my target and wait patiently for the movies to begin. Sometimes I see so many shots come to life that I think I’m looking into a kaleidoscope. When that happens, I stay in the same spots and I rerun all the options until I see one working better than the others. Then, and only then, do I visualise the specific swing needed to execute the shot and finally select the proper club for the task.”
Seve had an incredible imagination and was very aware of his target. He waited until he saw ‘the’ shot. He then visualised and probably felt the specific swing required and then, finally, he selected the appropriate tool or club for that shot.
Most amateur golfers spend way too much time trying not to hit bad shots rather than focussing their attention on creating good shots. You always have a choice. Choose wisely.
The Lost Art of Playing Golf
This excerpt was taken from Gary and Karl’s book, The Lost Art of Playing Golf which is available in hardback and Kindle formats.