As the most popular recreational game in the country, golf is certainly the most difficult to play well. For us to enjoy playing golf, we need to take this complicated game and find a way to simplify it. That is easily done, as this article will show.
There are three basic playing skills in golf: hitting the ball straight, getting close-in shots on the green the first time, and accurate putting. We shouldn’t be too concerned about how pretty we look while doing it (pretty is as pretty does), nor should we be bothered by exactly how we get the job done.
Our only task as golfers is to keep advancing the ball closer to the hole. The quickest way to do that is to hit the ball straight, walk up to it, and hit it straight again, then knock it into the hole. So far, so obvious. But how to do that?
After you have learned a basic golf swing, or chip or putt, here’s what you should do with it: use it to hit the ball. Use your swing to hit the ball. You don’t hit the ball, your swing does. That’s a huge difference in approach.
Golfers who try to hit the ball with a golf club are thinking of the end result. They think hitting the tiny golf ball with a tiny clubhead is a fine motor skill, the golf club being an extension of their hand which can be guided finely into the ball to achieve a pure strike. This leads only to failure.
A golf ball is not something to be hit or hit at. It is an object to be swung through. When thinking changes from “hit the ball” to “swing the club,” the entire game becomes easier and you hit better shots.
One way to look at it is that you should be truly surprised when the club meets the ball. Not that you can’t believe you actually hit it, I don’t mean that. It’s rather than you should be so caught up in your swing that you don’t realize until after you have hit the ball that this was what was intended all along.
How do you do that? It’s obvious you’re standing up the ball to hit it. How do you surprise yourself? Simple. By fooling yourself. By learning to ignore the ball even when it is right there in front of your eyes. By forgetting all about the fact that your goal is to hit the ball, and concentrating on making the best stroke that you have trained yourself to make.
This thinking goes for every shot, from two-foot putt to swinging a driver. What it leads to is minimizing or even eliminating tension in your swing. Tension, caused by trying to hit the ball to get a result, pulls our stroke out of line or off plane, rushes it, just plain gets in the way of us doing what we taught ourselves to do.
You swing, the club hits, and the ball flies. Keep the game that simple in your head, and you will play better.
My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at www.therecreationalgolfer.com. It will change everything about the way you play.