A sure way to ruin a golf shot is to step up to it and hit without being fully committed to the shot. There are a number of reasons that can cause us to not commit to the shot.
Sometimes it’s our equipment. There’s a 4 wood in my bag that doesn’t fit my swing anymore. My irons and driver have an x-stiff shaft and this 4w has a stiff voodoo SVS7. It just seems and feels out of place now. I feel like I need to make too much of an adjustment to my swing to hit it well. So when I have a 235 yard show where it would be appropriate I hesitate. This happened recently and I’ve decided not to repeat the mistake.
The hesitation is, I believe, my body telling me not to use the club. Even on the practice tee it feels strange now and it really doesn’t feel like it belongs in my bag now. I used to love hitting this club but as my swing has evolved, my equipment changes with it, and that’s what has happened with my irons and driver.
Not being comfortable with the equipment can cause hesitation. The result of this is usually a less than committed swing that tries to compensate for the discomfort. And this often leads to bad shots. It’s what Doc Joseph Parent calls an “anyway.” A shot that you hit “anyway” even though you feel uncomfortable about it.
One the other hand, I really love the way my irons play now. It’s taken me a little bit to get adjusted to the stiffer shafts, but the ball flight and consistency have made it all worth it. This gives me so much confidence when I get ready to hit a shot that it becomes very easy to see the shot in mind, and hit it.
There are other things that can cause less than full commitment to a shot. This is not a complete list but I think these are some of the major reasons:
- Not knowing the right distances to play to, especially if the green or target is up hill or down hill.
- Not knowing exactly how to calculate the effect of the wind.
- Having a difficult or very long forced carry.
- Having a very difficult lie in the rough or even the fairway like when the ball is in a divot.
- Being unsure of the speed of the greens.
One of the best ways to eliminate many of these doubts is to practice hitting from difficult lies. The more experience you get escaping from difficult lies the more confidence you’ll have in approaching those shots.
One of the things I see that I think really holds golfers from becoming better is when they improve their lies in recreational rounds and then go out and play a tournament. If they don’t ever practice out of those difficult lies, they won’t know how the ball is going to react out of them. So right away, they put themselves at big disadvantage in competition.
Challenging your fears and doubts
Learn to get excited about practicing the shots that make you nervous and you’ll become a better golfer. Make a game of it. See how many times you can get up and down from a difficult shot.
Try to eliminate the doubts and recognize why they happen. Sometimes the doubts come from a lack of experience with a type of shot, other times they come because you’re body is telling you that something is not quite right, as when the equipment doesn’t fit you. These doubts can be overcome but in either case it’s very helpful to deal with them.