What are you thinking about when you hit a golf shot? All the hazards you face? Water, bunkers, OB, your latest swing lesson, hitting it fat, thin to win, is this the right club, damn that fairway is narrow, uh oh the wind just gusted or died. A couple of these you may be able to do something about, but many of them are out of your control whether you obsess over them or not.
While you must observe all those negative influences in order to decide where, how far and shape of shot to hit the ball, once you’ve decided the shot you want to play, what’s the point of worrying about any of it? So, how do we keep those thoughts from encroaching on our mind as we hit our shot?
I played competitive golf for many years as a junior and for a brief stint as a PGA Professional. Growing up as a junior golfer in the 80’s, there was not a lot on the mental game of golf. The only bit of advice I remember was from Jack Nicholas, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head.” I didn’t grasp the essence and importance of this quote until many years later. I thought ok, so I visualize the shot I want to hit and then try to duplicate it in physical form. While that is important, the statement goes much deeper than that.
This concept needs to continue into the golf swing and not just before executing the shot you want to hit. The core of this concept starts with the target. The target should dictate what details you focus on with your golf shot. Once you have picked a target and decided the shot you want to play, the focus does not stop there. YOU NEED TO HOLD AN IMAGE OF THE TARGET IN YOUR MINDS EYE WHILE YOU SWING THE GOLF CLUB. This will focus your attention as sharp as possible in order to execute the best golf swing possible. Having this focus puts you in control of your thoughts instead of the endless rampage of things that could go wrong. An appropriately focused thought DURING your swing will ease anxiety and allow for a more fluid swing at your intended target.
When starting this new way of thought control during your swing, it can feel a little disorienting, so I would give it some practice on the range first. After that, when you are making your way to the course, make this primary goal to execute during the round and see what happens!