October 24, 2011

What Is Your Target?

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, enjoy better results, and enjoy yourself more than ever.

What is your Target?
Our actions are shaped by our intentions. When I ask golfers the purpose of making a golf swing, most of them answer, “To hit the ball”. Yet focusing on the ball as the target is a problematic perspective.

Thinking of their job as “hitting the ball” instead of “sending the ball to a target” is probably why you see some high handicappers make quite acceptable practice swings and then get up to the ball and swing like they’re chopping wood.

When the purpose of the swing is to send the ball to the target, that’s a different intention and a different swing appears. Set up to a shot with those two different intentions (hitting the ball versus sending it into the distance) and notice the difference in your stance and mental focus.

“Sending it” calls forth a stance and state of mind that are far better preparation for a successful golf shot.

Even accomplished golfers sometime fall victim to an unhelpful perspective, one related more to psychology than physics. The intention to “make sure I make a good swing” is likely to promote mechanical thinking and self-consciousness, both of which interfere with a free-flowing motion.

However, if your purpose is to fulfill an image of the ball flying or rolling to a target, the image fills your mind, and your body swings the club with far less interference.

When our intention is to avoid embarrassment or protect 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 ones he did win) had he focused on his targets as much when leading as when chasing.


Contributed by Dr. Joseph Parent, author of Zen Golf and mental coach to Vijay Singh. For more information, please visit his site at www.zengolf.com.

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