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Golf: Simple advice from a golf coach, suitable for any player. Lesson 3:

Updated on November 18, 2010


As a follow on from the last lesson we are going to look more at picking a target. Always remember that golf is a target game, no matter how wonderful the modern equipment might be and how much power you might have, if you can’t make your ball go to your intended target, you are always going to struggle to get near to your potential.

In the last lesson we talked about making your target as small as possible, today I am going to write about how to go about picking that target. The main thing is to pick a target you are confident you are going to at least get close to hitting. I’m a massive fan of positive thinking, but if you’ve got a three wood shot left to a green and the hole is tucked on the left edge of the green, just behind a bunker and water guards the left edge of the green and there’s a howling wind going left to right, I really don’t recommend picking the hole as your target.

Usually when you pick a target you’re not confident you’ll hit, you’ll be able to pick up signs, like your breathing isn’t as relaxed as it should be, muscles feel a little tighter and you’re anxious about the shot and picturing all the ways it can go wrong. In that same scenario as before if you take the three wood out of your hands, swap it with a seven iron and pick a target short of the green and short of all that trouble, you’ll be amazed how much easier breathing becomes, how much looser your muscles get and how it’s far easier to picture the ball flying to your new, precise target.

The other thing we need to take into account when picking our target is working out the chances of a mistake and the potential result of that mistake. All the best players in the world make plenty of mistakes, what they are exceptionally good at is limiting the damage of those mistakes and not letting mistakes bother them into making further mistakes. Let's picture a mid-iron shot to a flag on the right edge of the green with some water on the right just a few yards from the hole. With twenty yards of green to the left of the hole. If we aim straight at the hole and hit our target, then fantastic, we will have a good birdie chance. However if we miss if to the right by five or more yards we are in the water and staring a double bogey in the face. If we aim ten yards left of the hole and hit our target we are left with an easy par and outside chance of a birdie. If we miss by ten yards to the left then we are still on the green and a good chance of par. On this occasion if we miss our target by ten yards to the right then we are right by the hole with an excellent birdie chance. Overall those possible results are far better.

When picking a target you should factor in you own most likely error, for example if you tend miss your shots to the left then your target should be a little to the right of someone who tends to miss their shots to the right. If like most players you don’t have that sort of consistency they you have to stick with picking the target I wrote about in the previous paragraph. This is why golf gets far easier if you know that if you are going to miss a shot, you know it will be to either the left or the right and not that it could be either and you have no clue which is most likely.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to play ‘perfect’ golf, remember in golf, to err is human, to forgive yourself is divine.


Today’s lesson: Pick a target that you are confident you can hit, one that allows you to make a relaxed swing. Also factor in all the likely outcomes of the shot when picking a target.



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