Every golfer knows that if you can get up on to the green and leave yourself with a makeable one putt you will shave a lot of shots off your score card and your handicap. Making those up and downs is the key to good scoring, and maintaining your momentum throughout your round. Each time you make one of them to save par you walk on to the next tee box filled with confidence. And good golf is built upon confidence.
There are many different ways to play those shots around the greens, utilizing a variety of clubs. You could, like Phil, use a 64-degree wedge or you might favor a sand wedge, seven iron or hybrid. Different positions and circumstances call for different shots. You need to feel comfortable with the club in hand and know how the ball will likely react when you connect with it. You need to know how far and how high the ball will fly before it lands and how far it is likely to roll after it lands.
These aspects of the short game depend upon experience, physics and practice. But before you choose your shot and the relevant club you have to see the desired shot. You have to assess the lie and the flag position and decide upon your optimal shot. For this you have to draw upon your store of knowledge and visualize the shot.
It is this visualizing that makes the shot possible. Seeing is believing. The more detailed your visualization the more belief and commitment you will have to the shot in hand. So you see the shot, choose your club and take your practice swings, feeling for the right amount of back swing and follow through to make that shot happen.
You get into your pre shot routine and this should involve seeing that shot again. This is where I have noticed a lot of amateur golfers make a mistake. I played with someone the other day and was reminded of a little trap that is easy to fall into. This golfer kept landing her ball right beside the pin, on one occasion actually hitting the pin.
I eventually asked if she was visualizing the shot. “Oh, Yes, I’m really good at that” came the response. So I asked her to describe her process of visualization. She described how she stands behind the ball and sees a direct line between her ball and the pin and sees her ball going there, and then keeps a strong image of the actual cup in her inner mind as she looks down at the ball and takes her shot. Hence the ball flying all the way to the flag before it lands upon the ground and then rolling a ways past.
She was visualizing in full technicolor, with a lot of detail. And the ball was following her inner eye. But she was giving the ball a slightly incorrect instruction. Once she instead began to visualize the spot where she wanted the ball to land, allowing for the amount of subsequent roll towards the cup she achieved a far more successful and satisfying outcome.
When you are planning to make more up and downs it pays to always walk up to the green, check the slope and grain and then choose the optimal place for your ball to land. Then you simply set up to your ball with a visual image of that spot in mind, clearly seeing the ball as it flies there, lands and rolls right into the cup.
Roseanna Leaton, golf addict and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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