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The Importance of Visualization
One of the most important aspects of this game that is so often overlooked is shot visualization. Because the object of this game is to maneuver the ball around an obstacle course of sand, trees and water, we must not limit ourselves to straight lines.

The golf ball may at times appear to have a mind of its own, slicing and hooking all over the place. However, the ball does not react that way until you hit it. So how do you predict the way in which the ball will go?

First of all, it is important to recognize what shape of shot is most apparent in your own game. It may be a hook, in which case the ball has a tendency to go to the left for right-handed golfers. If this shot is evident greater than 60% of the time and the ball still remains on the golf course 60% of the time, it may be wise to visualize that same shot before you hit the ball, making the ball curve on that arc to end up on your target. If it bothers you to play a hook shot all the way around the course, then it may be lesson time for you.

If your hook cannot be straightened, what is the point of beating your brains out with correction when you have a valuable tool in your bag? Remember that getting the ball in the hole is the only priority in this game, so if you know what your ball is going to do before you hit it, you are ahead of the game.

This brings me to my point about visualization. If you can see a particular shot that is familiar to your mind's eye, you will be able to repeat that shot. If you are busy picturing the ball float up in the air and drift back to the right, and the shot that you hit 60% of the time is a low runner to the left, then your wires are bound to get crossed and probably short circuit on you. The hardest thing to master in this game is consistency. So, when you find it -- whatever it is -- if it's playable, use it to your advantage.

The first thing I do when teaching any golfer is establish the good natural movements they exhibit. Then, without changing those movements, teach the individual to maximize them to drown out the swing flaws. Too often as golf professionals or home study swing analysts, we are too eager to let the pupil know everything they are doing wrong. This is unintentionally done to highlight how much knowledge we as teachers have and to impress our pupils with the speed in which we can spot the fault. Obviously, this approach is detrimental to the lesson, as all of the faults are at the forefront of the pupil's mind, cluttering any intended good advice.

I believe there are several ways to make a golf ball end up at the intended target and not one of them is incorrect. Furthermore, within each style you will always find a few common things that give away the secret to increased golfing enjoyment.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

All too often we find ourselves frustrated and uninspired. We forget that we chose this game -- it did not choose us. And as you say to yourself, "It's just a game," remember one thing: Be humble and be dignified, for a person controlled by a game cannot learn to control himself.

 
 ©1999 Craig Hocknull
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