By Bob Madsen, PGA Director of Instruction – Sycuan Golf Resort
This is an article about interest. Interest is absorbed attention and it belongs on the target, not the ball.
The ball is not the target. The target is the hole, the green, the fairway or the like. It is always out there somewhere. When a typical golfer is asked, “Are you trying to hit the ball?” The response is almost always, “Yeah.” From this admission, I suppose that for this person, the ball has become the target.
Hitting at the ball doesn’t work very well. I discourage it. Avoid the word hit. Swinging the club and letting the ball get in the way works much better. Encourage your students to learn about this.
Invite your students to put their attention on the destination. Have them be as interested in the target as they would be on goal posts if they were kicking a field goal. Simply put, one is not trying to hit the ball. One is trying to hit the green. One does not kick the ball in football, you kick field goals. There is a big difference. From this, it is possible to get the person to gradually be more able to swing the club and allow the ball to get in the way.
You can easily tell which golfers are more interested in the target and which ones are only interested in the ball. Just watch their eyes. Are they looking interestedly toward the target between each shot in practice or are they staring at the ball? If they are spending more time looking at the ball than at the target they have got it backwards.
From this rough indicator you can guide them toward making the target the object instead. Many good swings come to a crashing halt because the deliverer of the blow thinks and feels he is all done at impact. He wrongly thinks he is supposed to hit the ball and that impact is critical.
Nothing could be further from the truth. For good pros, the moment of impact is not all that momentous. It just occurs as a side-effect. The swinging clubhead goes through and incidentally the ball gets sent. The moment of impact is not incidental for the average golfer. For them, that moment is an emotion filled instant of tremendous importance: too much importance. The far end of the swing following impact seems cosmetic, useless and unromantic.
On the contrary, what follows after the club goes through is part of the swing. You will find that two main things will occur here. First as you coax attention off the ball and onto the target the students club will swing through to a better finish. Secondly, as the club swings through, impact will not interrupt as much.
Impact is a side effect and the ball is not the target. Attend to the matter at hand and have your students do the same. They will get better and you will be a big winner.