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Short Game: Focus on the Correct Target

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The 43rd Ryder Cup was played alongside Lake Michigan on the windswept Whistling Straits course. This week the LPGA is playing the Shoprite Classic along the Atlantic coast in New Jersey. Another professional test of controlling your golf ball in the wind. When the conditions add to the challenge of the course, we find even the best in the world are going to miss the green.
As we watch the women compete this weekend, pay special attention to their eyes on short pitches and chip shots. Greenside bunker shots would fall into this category as well. You will notice that the player isn’t always looking at the hole when they play their stroke. What are they looking at? Most amateurs never take their gaze off the goal.
Short game success comes from the player’s ability to read the lie, pick a spot to land the ball and THEN have it roll out to their target. That spot is crucial for getting the ball close to the hole. It’s a very simple and common mistake. Amateur players do consider where they land the ball in most cases, but then they return their attention to the hole. As a result, the ball tends to go flying by the hole and into some other form of trouble.
Then, when it comes to the next short game shot, our confidence is cracked and we inevitably decelerate and leave the ball frustratingly short. This dance continues back and forth for the remainder of our round. All of this classic short game chaos could have been avoided if we focused on our landing target with the initial attempt.
Before we take a new PGA Coaching strategy to the course, get to the short game practice area, and follow these fundamental steps to your new approach on short shots.
  1. Upon arrival to your ball, assess the lie, conditions, and target (hole).
  2. Based upon that quick calculation determine where you must land the ball to get it close. Short shots do not fly into the hole. They land and then roll out toward their target to get close. The best short game players use the ground more than the air.
  3. Select the club needed to hit your landing spot.
  4. Test the lie with your club of choice.
  5. Focus on the landing spot. Stare at it, not the hole.
  6. Hit the shot.
Don’t forget Step 5! This is what all amateurs need to practice. Keep your attention on the landing area. Hit ten shots and don’t even look at the hole once. Once done, look at your results. Immediately you will find more shots closer to the hole. Short shots are filled with anxiety. Rightfully so when your target is four inches wide and one-hundred feet away. Now imagine a three-foot circle ten feet away as your target. It’s far less difficult.
You can take a high degree of difficulty out of your short game by shifting your focus. Practicing these 6 PGA Coaching Steps will build your confidence. Take that newfound swagger to the course and start lowering your scores.
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