Do you have a game plan for each shot that you play on the golf course? If you follow the five steps described below, you will develop a solid game plan to ensure the best possible outcome for your shots. My biggest mentor in golf instruction has been Chuck Cook. I was fortunate to study under and work for him as his lead instructor in his Academy. This is a formula that I learned from him and use it with my students.
1. Identify a comfortable target.
The target that you choose must be realistic and achievable for your skill level based on your performance during practice and play. For instance, do not try to carry a 200 yard shot over water to get on the green when you can aim to right side of the green with only a 180 yard carry, unless you can pull the shot off well over half of the time.
2. Choose a comfortable club for the shot.
My definition of a comfortable club is determined by your success with each club in practice and play. On a tight par four, try using a fairway wood or hybrid off the tee if you are not hitting your driver particularly well. Another example would be putting from off the green or playing a bump and run with a seven iron instead of using your wedges if they need work. Develop your confidence on the practice tee before you put a club into play on the course.
3. Make a comfortable swing.
If you abide by rule #1 and #2 then you have a much better chance of swinging comfortably. The likelihood of a good swing goes way up ifyou choose an achievable target and a club with which you have confidence. Your tempo and timing will improve dramatically. All players perform their best when they find their own personal tempo. Find your tempo on the range and stick with it.
4. Have a strong pre-shot routine.
This is a two fold issue. First, we must develop consistent fundamentals on each shot. The tour players are very good at this. You need to be aware of your grip, aim, alignment, posture, and ball position. This is all developed in practice so that it will take less time on the course. The second phase of a pre-shot routine involves target choice, club choice, type of shot, and feel of the shot.
5. Choose your cue for the swing.
Cueing is having a swing thought during the swing.Most sports psychologist will tell you to try not to have swing thoughts on the golf course. I believe that some people play better with swing thoughts. Through our research at our academy and talking with some of the best players in the world, we found that there are four categories that players fall into concerning cueing of the swing. Some players think of nothing but the target, others think of only the ball flight, some think of what the club is doing, and lastly some think of what the body is doing. The goal is to find out what works best for each player. To determine how you should cue your swing on the course, play a few holes thinking exclusively of one of the four categories. You will find what type of swing cues help you perform. If you tend to be more analytical in nature, I recommend focusing on only one or at most two thoughts (although two is dangerous!). The golf swing is only between 1 and 1.5 seconds so your brain does not have enough time to process information and make a comfortable swing. Follow these steps and some of your best golf is right around the corner.