Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hitting down the target line

I recently had the opportunity to play in our states Mid Amateur Championship.  I was excited to play with other guys my age, and on a great golf course under tournament conditions.  One of the main reasons why I play in these types of events is to test myself but to also discover the weaknesses in my game.  When playing a difficult golf course under pressure the weaknesses in your game will come through.  In this particular event my weakness was my iron play accuracy.  I was striking the ball cleanly enough; however, my accuracy was not what it needed to be.  So, after some reflection on a cause and I came up with a remedy. 

A friend of mine always used to say “a road to somewhere leads nowhere”.  He used that in context of business planning but I also see an application in golf.  In other words, when you setup to hit a shot without an exact target you are not likely to hit it.  So, I went to the range to apply this philosophy in my practice routine.  I decided to use the same routine that Jack Nicklaus has always taught about target alignment.  Jack always says to stand behind the ball while lining up the shot and then select your target.  From there, pick your end target as well as an intermediate target such as a spot of grass in front of your ball.  The idea being that it is easier to line up to a target a few inches in front of the ball rather than a hundred yards out.  So, I employed this method but took it one step further and here is where it made the difference for me.  I not only aligned to that intermediate target but I also hit through the ball on that line to the short range target.  The positive results for me were two things.  First, my ball was starting out on the exact target line I was aiming for and ultimately, ending up at the target.  Second, my clubface was much squarer at impact resulting in a more solid strike.  This leads to better distance control and shot trajectory.  My thinking was if this drill is good enough for the greatest player of all time, then it is good enough for me.  There is one final aspect to this method that I like.  In performing this technique you will find yourself driving down the target line and through the ball.  In other words, your focus becomes driving through the ball to the target rather than the “hit” at impact.  Most of us are so focused on hitting at the ball not hitting through the ball.  Your focus becomes more target driven than impact driven.

I am not a PGA Professional nor do I claim to be.  However, when I do find a drill or tip that works both on the course and practice range I like to share it.  So, the next time you go to the range give this tip a try, you may also find that it leads to better impact and more accurate golf shots.

Let us know if this works for you, I would like to hear your feedback.