Don’t Think About the Golf Shot, Feel It

One of the hardest things for athletes in any sport is to take what they are told about ways to accomplish something and transfer it to what we call “feel”. We are taught to do a series of actions to complete a golf swing, and then as we learn that swing we think our way through it. The game of golf might be tougher in this regard than, let’s say a shooter in basketball who is given no time to think. I sometimes think golfers would do better if they had a short time limit on their shots.

Many of us who have played golf for a while have experienced that sense of feeling the shot. It usually happens when we start playing well and think about the golf course and let the golf swing take care of itself. That’s when we get in the “zone” and hit the ball better than ever. Then invariably some little thing goes wrong and we start analyzing our swing again. The question then: is there some way that we can get in that zone more often and stay there?

The first thing to do is to have a change in attitude. Try not to be too analytical on the course when it comes to your golf swing. Save the analysis for course management when you play, because when you think about navigating the course properly there really is enough to keep you busy. Try not to even think about the swing when playing the course; leave the swing analysis to the practice area.

I have found two approaches when on the golf course trying to get you to feel the swing. Most people do it when addressing the ball. After lining up the shot from behind the ball step up to about one foot farther from the ball and take the complete practice swing. The concentration should be only on one thing: making solid ball contact. After this is completed step up to the ball and repeat that same swing, adding or taking away nothing and thinking about nothing but solid ball contact.

I use a slightly different approach which doesn’t involve the practice swing. When lining up the shot from behind the ball I visualize only making solid contact on the ball. I leave all the other things like take away, back swing, hip action and follow-through to muscle memory. Most of us have swung a golf club thousands of times so why will it be necessary to give it one more reminder? It will just get in the way of what the body really knows how to do naturally. Not that this will always work, but it keeps us going back out there to try.