(Guest Column #1) The benefits of visualization.

From Banner12:

How often do you get to the tee and look out at the fairway and simply not feel comfortable? Architects just love to make the player uncomfortable on the tee with narrow landing areas, hazards, mounds and my personal favorite, a blind tee shot. Pros are not immune to this as they often say the shot didn’t fit my eye. OTOH, there are holes that fit your eye and give you confidence to hit the shot. When one plays don’t you have certain holes you hate and some you love?

My last hole in one a few months ago I came to the tee and where the tee was located, where the pin was located, the way the wind was blowing, I just felt it set up perfectly, so much so that I told my playing partner, “I haven’t had a hole in 1 lately, this could be it.” And I NEVER say that. Sure enough it happened.

What I believe was going on was an unconscious visualization that made me feel intuitively that I could hit a good shot and it could be close. On the tee a few holes later I felt uncomfortable and consequently hit a poor shot. One might immediately think of mechanics to correct this, but that can often make things worse since the golf swing does not happen in a vacuum. One correction/compensation can lead to another problem which leads to another and on and on. Unraveling that mess leads to drinking and worse.

The human mind can do amazing things. Nancy Lopez once said this when someone asked her how she hit a draw and how she hit a fade, “I just think ‘draw’ and think ‘fade’.” Now this may seem nuts to a lot of players, but go try it on the range some time. Look out to a target and visualize the ball from the ground in front of you traveling to the target on the exact line you want it to, direction, height and curvature. See it land and roll to a stop. Go up to the ball only thinking about that image over and over. Then go up to the ball and hit it. Do the same thing using a draw visualization. Then do it thinking straight ball. Maybe you might want to use a mechanical adjustment by opening your stance and the face of the club before the fade and closing your stance and the club slightly for the draw always making sure you adjust your aim for the ball flight.

Putting, pitching, and chipping can all be improved by this. In your mind’s eye watch your ball roll across the green and into the hole. See your chip bounce and roll to the pin. Watch your pitch land EXACTLY where you want it to and stop by or go in the hole. Make this the last thought before you swing.

Ultimately, all you’re doing is simply using a different part of the brain to help your body do what you want it to. Because when you don’t think about what you want to do, you usually don’t do it.

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9 Comments

  1. banchiline

    Fantastic post! I agree 100%!

    See it then do it. The brain is the most powerful computer in the world.

    Reply
  2. Matt A

    Kind of an odd addition to the visualization ideas.

    but for awhile now I’ve been trying to figure out what it means to focus. The was always wondering if I had really focused on my shots or if I only thought I was focused on the shots.

    One day I had to pick my sleeping son up off the floor and he did not make it easy. All my effort and attention went to making sure I did everything in my power so he did not fall from my hands. That is when I realized what it means to focus and where my mind really needs to go when I’m over a shot. I was able to get out the other day and with that thought in my mind when I stepped over the ball I felt more at ease and able to pull my mind into focus. I liken this thought to a sort of a swing trigger and visualization to get me to focus on the task at hand.

    Reply
  3. James

    Nice post, thanks. Pretty good idea for a die hard blog reader like me. It’s funny when you’re playing well the visualization seems to happen on its own. But when you’re playing poorly mechanical thoughts seem to creep into your mind.

    I have prediction for Monte’s post Monday… Peter Kostis’ infatuation with Mickelson’s ‘wide to narrow’ swing this weekend. Peter was saying this was a good thing for golfers to think about. Come on Monte let’s hear a rant.

    Reply
    • ryan

      when kostis was saying that, I thought of monte right away too. Hopefully his dvr worked.

      Reply
  4. Monte Scheinblum

    James, did he really say that? My head is going to explode. What exactly did he say? I hope my DVR got it. There will be a rant.

    Reply
    • banchiline

      I’m ordering wings.

      Reply
    • James

      haha! yes he said that, but at least he said “it can create some inconsistancies”

      Reply
  5. Doug B

    Really interesting post. I tend to be a “paralysis by analysis” type of person, and this extends to my approach to golf. Monte’s philosophy of simplifying the swing has helped me a great deal, and this idea of visualization dovetails nicely. Now all I have to do is stop reading the instruction sections of golf magazines.

    Reply

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