Focus on the target – not on the ball
I hit the best shots when I’m concentrating on the actual target somewhere on the fairway or the flag. It is not something that comes easily to me. I have to make a conscious effort to see the flag in the distance when I’m lifting the club. This is still hard to do, but it gets easier, and I am doing it more often now. Most importantly it is the best fix for over-the-top swing. A problem that 90% of amateur golfers experience, apparently. I am no exception.
I don’t know how to describe it, but i can feel the switch from seeing the ball to seeing the flag when I’m about to swing. It is an actual switch in my brain that I notice. Many years ago there were these pictures popular that showed a scene, but when we concentrate our vision in a certain way, a 3D image popped out from it. I don’t remember what they were called, but I remember that to see that 3D image I had to see through that image. Not see what’s on the surface of the picture, but see passt it and the 3D image appeared.
This same feeling I get when I see the green when I look at the ball. I am still looking at the ball, or behind it, or under it, but my mind is seeing the green in the distance. Or part of the fairway that I want my ball to land. I can feel that switch, but it’s still not something that pops in my mind on it’s own. I have to concentrate really hard to achieve that switch.
At the moment I am still struggling with body over-rotation which manifests itself by lifting my head. I am also rotating my hips way too much, which makes it very difficult to shift weight at downswing. Not to mention the dreaded over-the-top golf swing. These few things are mechanical and I’m slowly getting rid of them from my swing, but I really want to start working on my target.
When I hit a tennis ball I never think about the ball, I only imagine the spot I want that ball to land. It is so easy to do that in tennis, but with golf it’s a struggle and something that requires a lot of effort. Maybe it’s because with golf, we hit the ball that lies in an awkward position. We never do anything in our life that resembles a golf swing.
Also, maybe because the ball is just lying there, not moving, we have too much time to over-think the shot, while with tennis, with the ball rushing towards us at 100 miles per hour, we have a split second to execute the shot and our mind tells the body to do that almost subconsciously. Without us purposely stuffing it up. I’m not sure.
What I do know is that switching from seeing the ball as the target to seeing the green or the fairway as the target is possible. It happens to me when I concentrate on it, but in time, I can teach my mind to do that by default. And this is the best way to fix the over-the-top swing.
I study the swings of the current pros on GolfDigest but I wonder how many of them remember every single angle, sequence, etc when they go for the ball. I think they look at the ball, concentrate on the spot they want the ball to land and they whack the crap out of it. They sequence takes care of itself.
Great advice Jay. I have been golfing 50 years now and I just started using this technique recently. It has changed my ball striking. I am hitting more fairways and greens and having more fun. You are definitely on to a secret of golf that not many people learn, even in a lifetime of golf!
I find it sad that so many people got turned off golf because the instructions are just too complicated. I mean, what’s so hard about hitting a ball with a stick, right? NO!!! There are hundreds of things my “golf coach” told me that I have to remember when striking a ball, to achieve the desired handicap. I used 6 out of 10 of his lessons and thanked him. 🙂 What a waste of my time and money.
Very interesting post! I once played my golf only with target in my mind even though my eyes are looking at the ball until a pro commented that I will not be able to flush the ball if I don’t look at it from backswing through to finish! So confusing until today! Logically you will think that when you see tennis ball coming, you will have to look at the ball to hit. Can someone please explain? Cheers
I keep my eyes on the ball, but I don’t just want to hit it, I want to send it flying into the distance. That instantly cured my over-the-top. Lately, to start my downswing, I am imagining chopping a tree with an axe, and my body does all the angles, weight shifts, rotations, etc… Works great. So much so, that I broke my driver on the range yesterday. I can whack the ball pretty hard now… 🙂 But to be fair, the driver was cheap and old.