Reality is Not “Reality” to most folks. Perception is Their “Reality.”
Many people say, “I’ve played lots of sports but golf is too hard, it’s just not natural.” However, no one says tennis, badminton, or volleyball, are unnatural, even though those sports require high shots, low shots, backhand shots, forehand shots, all while running here and there. Not to mention keeping an eye on your opponent at the same time! In baseball, as a fielder, you need to catch and throw the ball from all sorts of different angles and locations. As a batter, you need to deal with curve balls, fastballs, screwballs, and a strike zone that varies from umpire to umpire. For those you know baseball well, you know that when the hit and run is on, the batter must mentally increase the strike zone to protect the runner. Do you believe all these in other sports consist of natural movements but still feel golf is unnatural? Read on!
The only thing unnatural with golf is that are no lines of orientation as there are with other sports. Baseball has foul lines, base lines, and the warning track and so on. Football has the goal line, side line, and yard lines. Tennis has a well-defined court as does badminton. Even at the family picnic volley ball game we set up a net (a line) and use paper plates or whatever is handy to define the corner of the court (side lines). Golf on the other hand provides none of this orientation.
All better golf shots begin behind the target line of play. You stand behind the ball, eyes level as you look at your distant target. When you address the ball, set your posture and swivel your head to look at your target, your eyes are no longer level due to your head being tilted. This causes an optical illusion; even though your shoulders, hips, and feet are parallel to the target line, you feel as though you are aligned left or right. This illusion will vary with the shapes of the trees, the lay of the land, hazards, bunkers, and so on (golf course designers do this on purpose!). Many times we adjust to this “looks like” target line. Instead you should back off and look again from behind. Pick an intermediate target, two or three feet in front of the ball, which lies on the target line. It can be a small leaf, a piece of grass, whatever. Then, draw an Imaginary Target Line (ITL) in your mind’s eye from the ball, through the intermediate target and on to the final target. When you address the ball, use the intermediate target for aiming. This will remove the optical illusion mentioned before. Then, trust your ITL and swing with confidence. You’ll play better golf more often.
Golf is as “natural” as any other sport. Use your ITL and your perception of golf will change!
Jerry J. Alldredge, PGA Professional