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Trace a Path for Success

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on
Xander Schauffele plays his shot during the second round at TPC Louisiana.

Xander Schauffele plays his shot during the second round at TPC Louisiana.

Watching golf on television makes the game look easy. Especially this week as we see the players with partners on the PGA Tour make millions of birdies. As we are watching this week or any week, do you ever notice those lines on the screen? Technology can help our game in many ways. There are launch monitors, research and development for better equipment and fancy cameras to record our swings.
One item of innovation that is always overlooked is the tracing that crosses the screen every time a tour pro hits a shot. Built by Topgolf, Top Tracer technology tells a very detailed story with each strike. I think we all would agree it adds a very cool aspect to coverage, but how can we all use that line to our advantage?
PGA Coaches love using positive mental images as a precursor to successful shots. Affirmative thoughts before you hit the ball can be powerful. We have all experienced how a negative thought can ruin a moment. What if you had shot tracer following your every play around the course. What would those images look like? They wouldn’t all match our thoughts. In fact, the result many times is far better than what we imagine may happen.
Take the shape of this shot hit by Sam Burns. What do think he saw as he was preparing to make this play? He saw the shape, trajectory and flight all in his mind.
Don’t stop your pre-shot preparation with just checking the wind and selecting a club. Make sure you have a very specific image in your mind of where the ball is going to fly and land. Focus on the trajectory, curve and speed. By taking a moment and drawing your own trace through the sky prior to the shot you will infinitely improve your consistency. The mind can be very powerful when used this way in golf.
Forget the fact you feel like your shot pattern is too erratic. If you don’t have an image of where you want the ball to go prior to hitting it, then it doesn’t surprise me that you are inconsistent. Try this demonstration, I want you to watch the next two videos in succession. Start with Xander.
Think about what you just saw. Now watch Shane Lowry.
Which video makes you feel more comfortable? Of course, the second. Your brain wonders in the Xander shot where the ball went. When Shane strikes it, the trace depicts the shot, and you feel less anxious about the result. It’s amazing the difference and how you react.
That’s why we should have a picture or trace in our head of where our shots will go. By doing this, you will train your “golf brain” to think more positively. Having a more confident mindset will certainly lead to better play. Stop being your commentator and start being your tracer and soon you’ll be infinitely more impressed with the results.
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