How do you prepare mentally to give yourself the best chance of making an accurate approach shot? Sometimes that shot is going to be from close range; at other times it will be from a longer distance away. Sometimes the pin will be accessible whilst at other times it will be well protected.
Some greens are small, as at Pebble Beach, but they may also be enormous. The greens themselves differ in both gradient and speed. Weather conditions also affect your choice of play. Whether you are well ahead of your playing buddies, level or behind will also affect your shot decision. How comfortable you feel upon the day and also with a particular club in your hand will also need to be taken into account.
When you think about it there are many, many things to consider so as to place yourself in the best position to make an accurate tee shot. The golden rule is to go for the shot that you are most confident with having first assessed the things already mentioned here.
For example, you may have decided that the pin is too difficult to reach, and so you are going for the “fattest” part of the green. You’re not confident in the former so you go for a shot which you feel better about and more confident in its execution.
In a similar way, you may ideally have a shot which requires your most lofted club, but you have fallen out with that sand wedge, lob wedge or approach wedge; so the thing to do is to plan for a shot which you do feel confident with. An approach with your pitching wedge which lands on the putting surface ten feet from the pin is better than a timid flick at the ball with a sand wedge which only moves the ball a couple of feet forwards. Yes, if you are confident with the sand wedge it should get you close to the pin, but if you are not confident what is the risk factor?
In reality, you have to be very creative in your approach game. Ideally you will have intentionally set yourself up to approach form a position that you like to be in. You will have thought backwards from the pin and played your earlier shots so as to position yourself well for your shot into the green. But those mid shots between the tee shot and approach don’t always work as planned and sometimes you find yourself in unusual or strange positions. You then have to think quickly on your feet and be creative.
You probably know the basics of mental golf. You know that you need to focus clearly upon a fine target before every shot. You know that it’s important to visualize that shot prior to taking it; to see the line, trajectory and landing position of the ball. You have to be doubly focused when approaching the green; you have far less room for error. The rewards for a good shot are great; you are in birdie or eagle territory, par at the very least.
But the penalty for a thoughtless approach is also great; you could get a five, or even an eight. It pays to think clearly and to tighten up your focus as you get closer to the green. One thing that I have noticed a lot is a tendency for your mind to wander back to the pin even when you have selected a different area of the green to aim for. You might also have noticed this phenomenon?
Whether you have noticed it or not, it pays to become aware when this is happening to you. You may think that this minor movement of your focus will have little effect; but in actual fact the effect is HUGE. You choose your shot. You set yourself up as you like, aligning yourself to your specific target. You picture your perfect shot, prepare for your backswing and your mind flickers to the pin placement. What do you think happens next?
Your mental target has just become blurred. You are aligned to one spot but your mind has gone to another. Your imagination is more powerful than your will power. Your mental image of the pin placement will unconsciously draw your mind and body towards the pin as you swing. You will come across your line and the effect can be quite disastrous. Your swing path and the squareness of your club head at impact have both been compromised by this seemingly insignificant momentary shift of focus.
And so I guess there are three main golf mind tips to approach shot accuracy:-
1) Choose your shot wisely having already planned to position yourself well with your earlier shots from the tee.
2) Choose the shot which you are most confident with and so can visualize clearly.
3) Focus clearly and precisely upon your target and remain mentally magnetized by that exact target.
If you abide by these rules you will be best equipped to create accurate approach shots and set yourself up to lower your handicap and win more often.
Roseanna Leaton, avid golfer and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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