by: Stephane Boudreau: Assistant Swing Coach
The sport of golf is a hand-eye coordinated sport. Our eyes are a big factor when playing golf. Lately I have been thinking about what I look at during my shots, especially when putting. If you ask someone what they look at when they hit a golf shot, the standard answer would be “the golf ball of course”. Recently it has been brought to my attention that maybe if I focused on a more detailed spot it could help me be more focused and increase my consistency.
I like to hit a draw, so in order to hit a draw I technically need to hit the inside left part of the golf ball in order for the ball to go from right to left. So for me the logical place to look at would be a dimple on that left side of the ball. Looking at a dimple or a mark that I put on my ball increases my focus and decreases all my other thoughts rushing through my head. Basically I am looking at the very spot I want to make contact with the ball. Simplifying my thoughts and simply trusting my ability enables me to consistently hit that very little dimple I am looking to strike.
For putting it becomes easier for me to focus on a little spot because there is less movement during the stroke. At first I always looked at the top of the ball. If I did not look at the ball during my stroke, I tended to look at my putter go back and forth while I was putting. I think it was a terrible habit because then if I made a slight off movement in my stroke I would try to correct it.
While trying to correct it I always ended up making it worst then it actually was. But when I thought about where I wanted to hit the ball, I changed the spot I looked at from the top of the ball to the back of the ball. And I found my stroke became more consistent because I looked at the part I wanted to strike the ball. But of course putting being very difficult, last year I went on a little cold streak where I could not sink anything and I felt my stroke was off. So my coach told me to look where I wanted the ball to go and not think about my stroke. If you think about other sports like curling and bowling, which is really similar to putting, these athletes look at their target while sending their object and they are extremely precise. So I took his advice and spent about 20 minutes a day for a week on the practice green looking at the hole when putting the ball. It took away my thoughts and the temptation of looking at the putter during my stroke.
I felt like after doing this drill my stroke was better on the course and I had gotten better at keeping my head still throughout my stroke. After a week of doing this drill, he then suggested that I should start looking at the beginning of the line I wanted the ball to start on because obviously I wasn’t going to start looking at the hole while putting in regular play; it was only a drill to free my stroke. So I thought looking 2 to 3 inches in front of the ball on the line I wanted to start the ball could really help me keep my head still because I could not look at my putter going back and forth. All I would focus on would be to start my ball over that little path/spot I was looking at. After putting like this for a couple of weeks I returned to looking at the back of the ball because I felt confident I could resist the temptation of looking at the putter going back and forth and keep my head still.
Obviously people will all be different and have different ways to help them. But I think people don’t realize that if they would just simplify their thoughts by taking a step back and decide what they will think about over a shot, it will help them tremendously. It doesn’t have to be a little dimple on the ball that you look at during the shot; it can be the entire ball, the front of the ball, in front of the ball, where you want to start your divot, the top of your club, the face of your club, etc. Anything that will simplify your thoughts and will make you think something simple like “Just hit that spot right there” instead of thinking about all other things that creep into your head right before a shot like keeping “my right elbow tucked”, “making a full shoulder turn”, “keeping my head still”, “proper wrist cock”, “holding face square through impact”, “getting on my left side”, etc. Let your practice sessions be the thinker for those thoughts. So next time you’re on the range or on the practice green, take a few seconds to think about what you’re going to look at while over the ball and focus only on that while hitting. Try different things and see what works for you.
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