Harvey Penick was a great teacher and one of the undoubted reasons that his Little Red Book sold in such huge numbers is that he expressed simple thoughts simply, and had a real knack for the pithy summary that nevertheless contained many years of distilled wisdom.
One of his most famous expressions was 'Take dead aim' and, on the surface at least, it's a clear and simple instruction. It means don't just try and hit the fairway or green but focus on a specific point (and when hitting an approach shot, that point may often not be the flagstick).
The reason for the advice is that you need constantly to be measuring how you are doing and this is only possible if you give yourself specific targets. Ben Crenshaw, one of Harvey's most celebrated pupils, says this particular thought helped immensely when the pressure was on.
But it also means 'Focus'. At the time you hit the shot, it should be the only thing in your mind. Walk, talk, have fun, chatter or admire the scenery between shots but once you address the ball, give it your all.
Next time you play, step up to every shot with the reminder 'Take dead aim' in your mind and there's a real chance you will score better.
|| 18 - FEBRUARY 2003