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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Each Shot Must Have a Specific Target

I think most people understand that “don’t hit it in the water” is a bad swing thought, especially if it’s the last thing that goes through your mind before you start your swing. Many times, if this is the last thought in your head before swinging, the ball will go right where you don’t want it to go!

One of the best ways to improve your scores is to have a very specific target for every shot, whether it is a tee shot, approach shot, recovery shot, or a chip or putt. If you have a specific target, it helps you to keep the thoughts of where you don’t want the ball out of your head while you’re preparing to swing.

Keys to Picking an Effective Target

Make your target as small as possible. If you have a driver in your hands, don’t just aim for the fairway, or even the left side of the fairway, or even a tree. Instead, aim for a branch, or a pole, or the smallest object you can see that’s on your intended target line. If you’re chipping or putting, a blade of grass or a light or dark spot on the green may be a more appropriate target.

Don’t think about anything other than that target once you get to the ball. As you’re approaching the ball, think only of your small target. Don’t think about your last hole, or even your last shot, don’t think about what you’re going to order the next time the beverage cart arrives, and don’t even think about your swing, just let it happen and focus on the target. You will be surprised at how little your swing matters once you’re focused on a small target.

Pick the right target. Don’t just automatically aim your tee shot down the middle of the fairway, or your approach shot right at the pin. Instead, play the hole in your head from the green back to the tee and think about the smartest place to put each shot to give you the easiest chance of avoiding a big score. If there is a big bunker or water hazard short right of the green, you may want to hit your tee shot to the left side of the fairway (or even into the rough at times) and then your approach shot to the left of the pin.

Read your chips, then play them like a putt. When you are just off the green, think about how your chip or pitch will bounce and roll after landing, and pick the appropriate landing spot. Once you have read the break in your chip, pick the landing spot that will get the ball close to the hole, then practice swinging until you make a swing that you think will land the ball on your target.

Play enough break on your putts. When picking your target on a putt, make sure that you play enough break. A putt has a lot better side of dropping in the top side of the hole than it does dropping in the low side of the hole. Pay attention to where your misses go and if you are missing more putts on the low side of the hole, start playing more break and you will make more putts.

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