What is Your Target?
Our actions are shaped by our intentions. Make your intention for playing your shot a positive one, that is directed toward your target.
When I ask golfers the purpose of making a golf swing, most of them answer, “To hit the ball.” Unfortunately, thinking that the ball is the target is a problem. The problem is that they get so concerned with hitting the ball that they forget that the true purpose of the swing is to send the ball toward the real target – the fairway or the green.
Some golfers can make a very nice practice swing, one that is fluid, with the club head passing smoothly through the bottom of the swing arc, sweeping along the grass in the direction of the target. Their intention is just to make a smooth swing. However, their intention changes when they step up to the ball and they chop down as if it is an enemy they want to kill with an axe.
Our actions are shaped by our intentions. If your intention is to hit at the ball, you will not put enough energy into following through properly past the ball. But if your intention is to send the ball toward the target, you’ll make a much better swing toward and past the impact zone and into your follow through.
Even accomplished golfers sometimes fall victim to another unhelpful perspective, one related more to psychology than physics. The intention to “make sure we make a good swing,” is likely to promote mechanical thinking and self-consciousness, both of which interfere with a free-flowing motion. However, if our purpose is to fulfill an image of the ball flying or rolling to a target, the image fills our minds and our body swings the club with far less interference.
When our intention is to avoid embarrassment or protect against making mistakes, we make what we think is a careful swing and try to guide the shot where we want it to go. This prevents us from making a free, full swing and usually produces a poor shot.
The great champion Bobby Jones considered this his most serious weakness. He found that when he was comfortably ahead in a tournament, he began to fear the embarrassment of not holding his lead. He would try to control his swing to avoid making a mistake. Instead of picking a target, he focused on avoiding hazards. He felt that he would have won far more tournaments (and finished more easily the tournaments that he did win) had he focused on sending the ball toward his targets as much when he had the lead as when he was chasing the leaders from behind.
The best target is where we want to send the ball. The best intention is to trust our swing. The best purpose is to enjoy playing the game. Think this way and you’ll swing freely, get better results, and enjoy yourself more than ever.