Golf Tips - Focus on the Target and the Swing, Not The Ball

By Tom Ward

What will happen if you don't work on your game to hit more fairways and greens, or on your short game or putting? You can wave good-bye to birdies and pars, as they will be hard to come by if you're all over the course.

Not practicing correctly is a sure set up for failure. If, as the saying goes, "Golf is an intelligent game played by intelligent people stupidly," here are some enlightened tips on how to practice with purpose.

First, the ball is not the target; the target is the fairway or the green that lies ahead. Many golfers make the game harder because they make their motion to the ball, which, again, is not the target.

For some athletes, the ball can be the target. A batter focuses on the baseball as it heads toward the plate. A receiver's eyes zero in on the football before he makes a catch. Tennis players have to intently watch the ball coming at them in order to hit it. Other athletes - a quarterback, a pitcher or a basketball player shooting a shot - all have to look toward their intended target in order to see where they are throwing. They can't look at the ball; instead they project to their target and trust their skills.

Golfers getting ready to hit the next shot most likely cannot see the target, so they must rely on their swing to carry them through. They don't have to see the ball to swing effectively. That is the reason the blind can play golf. By not focusing on the ball, they simply focus on making a nice free-flowing swing. This is the reason most people's practice swings are better than their real swings, because they don't have a ball in front of them.

The secret to having a successful swing is, first and foremost, staying in balance. Balance is a must in order to create centrifugal force, which results in accuracy as well as distance. Allowing the body to rotate around a steady head or around the spine propels the club head in a true swing arc.

Regardless of the sport, all great athletes have to have good balance in order to execute particular moves. What robs most people of their balance is tension! Under stress, especially in tight situations when an important shot or putt is needed to be made, we start to tighten up. Once this occurs, we start having too many moving parts in our swing and this throws us out of balance.

On your next trip to the practice range, hit some balls with your feet together. If you maintain proper balance, you most likely will be surprised at how far and how straight the ball travels. Then try it with feet together and your eyes closed to take your focus off the ball. This will give you a greater sense of how important it is to maintain your balance and project to your target with your mind's eye, not your physical eye.

My father was legally blind before he passed away two years ago. He played a lot of good golf, consistently breaking 80. You may have excuses when it comes to your golf game, but I promise none of them are good ones.

If you want to see more birdies on your scorecard, start by playing the right way. Doing so will help you say hello to birdies and bye-bye to bogies. *


Robert S.  Scored 93 at  Amsterdam Municipal Amsterdam, New York

Richard D.  Scored 114 at  Boyne Highlands Golf Courses, Heather Harbor Springs, Michigan

Richard D.  Scored 113 at  True North Harbor Springs, Michigan

Donald K.  Scored 88 at  Eagle Mountain Fountain Hills, Arizona

Donald K.  Scored 97 at  Grayhawk, Raptor Scottsdale, Arizona

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