Golf Requires Action, Not Reaction
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Korea Times Golf Columnist
You react instinctively in most sports. You move your body without much thought but in golf you must initiate your action. You need to act rather than react. You need to decide what to do and when to do it. When your mind gets in the way of your body, your performance is affected. That is what makes the game of golf more difficult than other sports.
It may be natural that recreational golfers think too much about swing mechanics to act or hit the ball better. However, with your mind full of mechanical thoughts it is impossible to swing freely. Mechanical thoughts cause you to try too much to guide or control your swing rather than make an instinctive, natural swing of your own.
For a natural swing it's essential to avoid changing your swing every time you come across a new swing key. Have an erudite pro help you choose a few swing keys that best counter your swing faults and focus on them.
Similarly, pick a tour player whose body type resembles yours and emulate his or her swing. That prevents you from thinking too much, eliminating doubts in your swing.
Everything you try anew needs to be something that inspires your confidence and wipes away your doubt. As always with all other sports, one of the most critical parts in golf is trust. Without confidence in your swing it is impossible to make a perfect shot.
By this token, hit your spoon off the tee instead of your insecure driver. With a spoon you have more confidence and can hit the ball better. The shorter club with more loft facilitates hitting the ball more solidly on the sweet spot of the clubface on a more consistent basis.
Comparing the average distance of ten shots played with a driver and ten shots played with a 3-wood, you would find the 3-wood go farther and hit the fairway more often.
Virtually, once you learn to hit a 3-wood flush on a consistent basis, it wouldn't be a difficult matter to hit the driver. Beginner golfers need to avoid striving to learn to hit the driver. They need to learn first to hit a 3-wood that is far easier to handle.
Once you learn to hit a spoon consistently well, you will soon start to hit your driver far and straight without an extra effort. You don't need to hit tons of balls on the practice range with your driver.
High handicappers can take at least five shots off their score without improving their swing. All they need to do is select the right club like a 3-wood off the tee and know when to aim to the fat part of the green, when to chip out from the trees and when to lay up short of the green or a hazard.
Crucial to lowering score is wise course management. See yourself honestly and avoid expecting a miracle to happen. You cannot pull off miraculous shots you did not learn and master. Playing it a little bit safer, you will find your scores dropping.
Similarly, a good key to lowering your scores is to know where to tee the ball so you can hit more fairways. Recreational golfers tend to stick the peg in the middle of the tee box without considering moving to the right or left.
To create the largest possible landing area tee up as close as possible to the troubles such as out-of-bounds, trees and sand or water traps, then aim away from them.
For instance, on the hole where there is a large fairway bunker on the left side of the fairway, tee the ball near the left marker and hit away from the bunker. That way you can hit more fairways on a more consistent basis.
Also, to hit your tee shot safely on the short grass, decide where to tee up depending upon your shot tendency. Golfers tending to draw the ball need to tee up on the far left and aim at the right side of the fairway. That way, even if you hit it dead straight, the ball will finish on the fairway.
Golfers tending to hit a fade will get the best result by teeing up on the far right side of the tee box and aim to the left side of the fairway. That way you will have more margin for error.
Be extra-careful attacking a reachable par-four hole. Know your capability and avoid hitting the driver unless you can get the ball around the green. You will be left with one of the trickiest shots if you end up 30 to 40 yards short. Lay up and try to make a birdie with a full wedge shot and a solid one-putt.