This is the third of a three-part series on matters that make golf more difficult than it should be. Two weeks ago I talked about being ball-bound: thinking that you have to hit the ball instead of swing the club.
Last week I talked about how the pursuit of distance prevents us from doing our best. This week I’ll talk about the ground.
Golf would be a lot easier if the ground wasn’t in the way of the strike. We can survive errors of hitting the ball more toward the toe or heel than we can hitting thin or fat.
A thin shot still gets you something, but a fat shot gets you nothing much but a bad memory. And the anxiety about the ground is really about hitting fat, isn’t it?
Now there are technical fixes that prevent fat shots, and if you have this habit, by all means look them up, or get a lesson.
Technical fixes alone won’t solve the problem, though. Even flawless technique depends on your frame of mind in two key moments.
At takeaway, the wrong things to be thinking are making good contact, hitting the ball straight, hitting the ball to our target, and the like. We want those results, but we get them by sticking to the process.
The process is setting up to make a good stroke, paying attention to the club moving properly and your body following it. “Follow the process” is what to have in mind, if anything, when you take the club away. This process is the same for any shot.
Our mind can flinch at the last moment before impact. Actually, since the downswing is so fast, the club will still be a significant distance from the ball when we think it is just about to make contact with it.
That’s enough time to make a little adjustment that has nothing to do with hitting a better shot, but reflects only the lack of confidence in what we have been doing up to this point. So we do something, but it can never be the right thing.
You can’t turn off your mind when you swing. All you can do is, again, give it the right thing to think about, and that right thing is to follow the movement of the golf club forward through the ball.
Develop the strength of mind that allows you to do this, so it doesn’t work just occasionally, but all the time. The mental exercises explained in The Golfing Self develop that mind.
By being able to keep your mind on the right things, the worries and anxieties about not being able to hit the ball cleanly never find a way in. And when they don’t, there is nothing left for you but to sweep the ball away cleanly.