Something that I have long advocated amongst my clients and friends is the need to practice with a target selected before they begin their practice routine.
A lot will begin to hit balls and when faced with the question “What are you aiming at?” the response is worrying “down the middle”.
Now, consider the average driving range being somewhere in the region of 120 yards wide, where would you consider the middle to be?
Added to this, the way that the mat is aligned is also influential, with many range mats not actually aligned to the centre of the driving range.
So, if you are practising without a specific target in mind, how are you training both your mental approach for the golf course and your physical swing?
Physical swing – you are training nothing, as you could be aiming to the right of where you think and pulling the ball left, believing that you are actually hitting the ball correctly, this can also have a negative effect as you ingrain bad habit into your swing to correct the flaw in your set-up.
Mental – If you are happy to just aim down the middle on the range the same will be true when you step onto the first tee. You will aim down the middle hoping to find the fairway.
This doesn´t work because if you aim big you can miss big.
To give you an example, if you stand on the fairway with an approach to a large island green and your thought process is to get the ball anywhere on the green, what happens when you miss your target by 1 yard?
Your ball ends up in the water.
OK, now flick the switch to aim small. You are going to aim for the small dark green patch (a yard in diameter) in the heart of the green, again you miss your target by 1 yard. Where is your ball? On the green.
Perhaps more expressive is putting. How many of you aim for the dustbin lid, only to leave yourself with double that distance?
The reason is simple; you are aiming to big. If you changed your focus to actually getting the ball in the hole, if you missed by a yard your ball would be in the “dustbin lid” and you would be happy with your efforts.
But your margin of error was the same, the difference was the size of your target.
The smaller the target the more focussed your mind will be.
Aim small, miss small is the right mentality to adopt both on the practice ground and the golf course.
Never hit balls on the range without a specific target, you may as well not go if you do.