Have you ever mishit a shot and instantly said to yourself that you should’a, would’a, could’a? Golf is a thinking person’s game. If you have played golf for any length of time, you will know exactly what you should have done to create the perfect shot. Wouldn’t it be better to have thought out the shot that you wanted and committed to a setup and swing thought to make it happen?
Hank Haney said that every pro has a swing thought based on his or her big miss. They know what they are trying to correct for any wind condition, pitch, draw or fade that they are trying to achieve.
You can’t play this game well without thinking through the shot, deciding on your landing position, deciding on the direction of your backswing and the execution of your down and follow through. Don’t listen to the CRAZIES who tell you to block out all thoughts and just swing. You really should take a practice swing to feel the shot that you are about to take. Then you can relax your body and mind and hit the shot that you want.
Examples of the Thought Process for Each Type of Swing
1/ Driving off the Flat of the Tee Box: You know if your natural swing creates a draw or a fade. Determine your landing area and then setup to create your normal swing with a controlled backswing and follow-through to launch your ball for distance.
2/ Fairway Shots: Know your distance, choose your club depending on the wind and then sort out your swing and grip based on the flat or the slope or side tilt of the ground where you are standing. Your setup to compensate for the resulting direction of the ball is key for your success. Even more important is the adjustment that you make with your grip (up or down on your club to compensate for ground height) and the position of the ball in your stance for a clean hit off the imperfect surface.
3/ Hitting out of the Rough: If your ball is lying down in the rough you have no choice but to accept that fact that you are going to “take your medicine”. You should choose and iron to get out of the rough and back on the fairway. Forget making it to the green with a once in a lifetime shot. Make sure that you land your ball in a location where you can make the perfect shot to land your following shot close to the pin. Hank Haney advises that you open your stance, position the ball a bit forward of center in your stance and swing with a more downward direction for a “cut shot”. Minimize the amount of grass that you hit before connecting with the ball by cutting down and through the ball. It won’t fly as far but it can get you out of trouble.
Note: Hitting a draw shot out of the rough is very difficult as it required that you place the ball back in your stance and swing from the inside to out. You are bound to hit some tall grass before the ball and spoil your shot. Don’t try for the miracle shot. Take your medicine and get out of the rough.
4/ Short Grass Putting Stroke: When you are within 30 yards of the hole, with a lie in short grass and no hazards in front of you, use any club that you feel comfortable with and putt it. Yes, use a putting stroke with a locked leading wrist to avoid fat or thin hits. Just swing like a pendulum with a fixed distance from your shoulders to the ball. There is no need to cock your wrists in the back swing. Just learn to hit with any club to gain confidence in the distance that you will hit through the air and the distance in roll out on the green.
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