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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Golf


Take Your Eyes Off That Ball!

Ned Jacobs

O.k., so you love golf. I know, I know. Me too.

There you are, exhilarated just by being on the course again, away from the worries of real life. Man, this is great.

But come on, underneath all that titillation is - way too often -- the pang of frustration. Why? You know the routine. You get all set up and quickly run through the 20-item checklist in your brain. This time, everything's just right, perfect. And then, wack, off the ball goes, to Slice City or to Hooksville. Or perhaps a dribble or a pop fly.

Dang! Isn't there a way to end this misery? Well, no, there isn't, not entirely.

But I do have a suggestion that may help sometimes, and that is to take your eye OFF the ball. That's right. Let go.

Here's the idea. First, make every backswing as slow as you can. And keep it low to the ground as long as you can, especially with your driver and woods -- whether off the tee or on the turf.

Now, as you start that backswing -- as straight back as you can - and keeping it low -- shift your focus from the ball to the lower edge of your clubface or to the clubface itself. As you bring the club back those first eight to twelve inches, either watch just the club edge or face or quickly dart back and forth between the club and the ball, keeping the lower edge of the clubface perpendicular to the intended line of flight of the ball.

This helps to keep the clubface perpendicular to the line of flight during those first few inches -- and tends to help to bring the club face in perpendicular during the forward swing, resulting in straighter, truer flight and better distance.

Why is this? Well, some people are natural athletes with great "body sense." Eye-hand co-ordination is second nature to them. But to the rest of us 26 million or so golfers in the United States, athletic coordinated movement doesn't come so naturally. So we cheat a little, using the eyes to help the body movement to stay in alignment. And that little help can make a big difference.

This technique can work equally well with the driver, other woods, irons, and (especially) the putter. That's right, slow up that backswing with the putter too, and watch that club as it goes back. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

So keep your exhilaration -- and your titillation -- but lessen your frustration by taking your eye off the ball. (Oh, by the way, eventually it is a good idea to get your eyes back on that ball. But you knew that, right?)

Ned Jacobs is an attorney in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Director of the Phonics Institute. He can be reached at, and at 7 Church Street, Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; 340-773-3322; fax 340-773-2566.

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