Because we find it difficult to hit the ball consistently well, most of us tend, not unnaturally, to concentrate on doing just that when we're on the course and we give little time to the mental aspects of the game. We also tend to assume that things like strategy are the preserve of pros or the best amateurs when in fact, clear thinking could save us all a few shots a round.
For example, good players have learned to focus on where they want the ball to go and trust their swings to get it there; high handicappers think only of where they don't want the ball to end up. In consequence they try to steer it rather than hit it, and more often than not the ball goes exactly the place they're trying to avoid. If a green is guarded by water on the right, for example, the pro will focus on the part of the green where he wants his ball to end up - the amateur, in contrast, will think: -Don't go in the water.
The editor of ScottishGolf says his first ever lesson in strategy came many years ago when he was partnering a low-handicap amateur in competition. Having hit a good drive on a par five hole, the editor was left with a long, uphill approach with two bunkers sitting either side of the fairway about 40 yards short of the green. The editor automatically pulled out his 3-wood and his partner asked: 'Can you reach the green with that?'
'Probably not, no,' was the reply.
'Can you reach the bunkers?'
After a couple of seconds thought, our editor took out his 7-wood, laid up short of the bunkers, had an easy wedge onto the green and made par, net birdie. As a result, he says, he now always thinks about what he's trying to achieve before hitting a shot.
We don't believe the 'always' bit, but it's not a bad philosophy, and it's one that could help your game, too.
|| 25 - MAY 2004