Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

November 30, 2003

Playing Lessons with a Pro

Filed under: Golf — Bunker @ 5:35 pm

Nick Faldo is on the Golf Channel right now, explaining how he plays and his thought processes on each shot. It’s and interesting program, and I catch it when I can. Nick is quite a character, so this episode is even more enjoyable. I like the format because it brings together all the points made by all instruction into focus.

For example, Dave Pelz has a system for playing the short game where he defines club distances by the swing clock. That is, each club will fly the ball a different distance based on the backswing arm position. He identifies the 7:30, 9:00, and 10:30 positions as repeatable swings for specific distances. Faldo makes the same point about an individual shot he makes. He says he hits a full wedge 140 yards, so for a 120 yard shot, he wants a 10:00 swing. He also makes the point that it is irrelevant whether his hands actually get to the 10:00 position if his mind and body “feel” they’re at 10:00. The shot he made was distance-perfect, even though his hands actually only got to about 9:00. So, it’s really mind over matter.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the brain and how it works, and I also picked up a thin book on the mental side of golf. Realistically, you can do a lot to help your game (or anything else in life) with visualization and positive thought. I’ve learned to pick out a target on the course, whether fairway or green, and implant the image of the ball flying through the air and landing on that spot. Amazingly, I’ve had far more success with my shots doing this than I do with simply finding a “target line” for alignment.

The mind can retain an image for approximately eight seconds, which is why you can stare at something then look at a white wall and still see the image. I’ve begun to try and visualize the shot while adressing the bal so that it is implanted during my swing. It is amazing how the brain can control direction and distance, but not really all that surprising. Consider throwing a ball. You look at the target and throw…the brain accounts for the distance automatically.

Well, almost. It takes training and repetitions. Which is where I’m at right now. But I can saw there is strenth in the concept–I normally shoot mid to upper 80s. My last three rounds have been 84, 82, and 81. And I didn’t even feel like I played well.

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