Golf Tips - Remaining Focused is Key to Staying on Target

By Tom Ward

One of the biggest mistakes most golfers make is not swinging to their intended target. Most golfers will tell you they are swinging to hit the ball when in reality your target is the fairway or the green. This is why when people make practice siwngs in most cases that swing is better than their actual real swing over the ball. The reason this occurs is because there is a ball in front of them and they make the ball the target. Once you lock eyes too long on the ball your mind starts grinding out too much information which can become detrimental because it can inhibit you from just reacting naturally.

Let me give you an example of how to stay focused under pressure and learn to swing to your target instead of focusing on the ball. A friend of mine named Maury Buford was a professional football player who was the punter for the Chicago Bears back in 1985 when they won the Super Bowl. Maury throughout his career was placed in crucial situations where he had to kick the ball with his opponents rushing him at full force attempting to block his kicks. Maury's ability to block out any distractions and focus on the task at hand made his a valuable asset to his team and he had a long career in the NFL with much success. It's his training as a punter that will help illustrate the point I want to make about projecting to your target.

When your mind is focusing on where the golf ball is sitting,it can limit your ability to make a proper swing. Too much time over the ball will allow tension to creep in and then your really in trouble. The golf ball can be a great hypnotist. Keeping your eyes fixated on the ball is like looking into a hypnotist's pocket watch. Suddenly, instead of swinging your now attempting to hit because you see the ball in front of you. For the body to swing the club towards your target, you must first see the target. Since your head is not in position for the physical eye to see the target, we must train the mind's eye to see it. On many occasions I will have my students setup over the ball and ask them to tell me where the flagstick there are swinging to is by having them point to it without looking at the target. You would be amazed at how many times people are pointing no where near to where they actual thought the target should be. I will also have players do a really tough drill by setting up to the ball and cocking their head slightly turning it to look at their target. This will restrict your backswing somewhat because we are not built to swing a golf club with our heads looking at our target. Your head stays down not to look at the ball, but to help you stay balanced and centered. With a little practice doing this exercise and staying bent over throughout your entire swing you'll go from missing the ball to grounders to actually hitting it and getting it airbourne. Closing your eyes is yet another drill that will help you take your mind of the ball and just swing. There's a great expression I use in my golf clinics to further this message. It goes "Throw your heart over the high bar, and your body will follow. "You must first believe you can make the shot and trust your instincts and abilities and then just pull the trigger. To play good solid golf you want to have a quiet mind. Because a mind overloaded with too many thoughts will create confusion and this inturn will not allow you to freely swing through the ball towards your target.

Like Maury told me on numerous occasions he didn't have time to allow on rushing players to distract him while he was kicking the ball away.If for a second he took his mind off what his job was the ball would be blocked resulting in disasterous consequences. When the ball was hiked reaching his hands he went through his routine that he practiced thousands of times. His committment and focus to kick through the ball not at the ball is what gave him great leverage and power to kick those long towering punts down the field pinning the opponent back with poor field position. Just like Maury did in his days as a punter in the NFL, you don't have time to worry about mechanics or random swing throughts when your over the ball about to swing or your setting yourself up for failure. Trust your swing and go through the ball, not swinging just at the ball and I believe your going to like results. Remember the ball is not your target. Your target is the fairway or the green you wish to hit. Learning to use your mind's eye (seeing the ball traveling to your intended target), instead of your optic eye(seeing where the ball sits) will allow you to swing into a better golf game. Maury had a funny phrase he always liked to use in tough situations and it goes, "When in trouble always punt. "Boy, don't you wish you could do that when your in trouble on the course in the deep rough or a steep bunker. *




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