But recently Steve and I rediscovered the one thing every golfer must do to play their best golf. Harvey Penick had perhaps the best advice you can give to any golfer. He said we must "take dead aim." Golf is a target game. And the best golfers are able to choose, and then commit to hitting, a specific target. That target may not necessarily be the pin, or the exact centre of the fairway, but it is a specific target.
Too many golfers stand on the tee and just try to hit the fairway. The fact is that a thirty yard fairway is simply not a specific enough target to enable you to take dead aim and for your mind body to perform at its best. It would be like playing darts and just trying to hit the board instead of the bullseye. Your target needs to be something small, like the white 150 yard marker in the middle of the fairway. When hitting into the green, the target might not necessarily be the flagstick. But it can't be vague enough to be just hitting the green.
Of course, taking dead aim means identifying your target, properly aiming your clubface at that target and then making a swing with direct intention of hitting the ball to that target. And while that may sound obvious, it is amazing how often we don't do it. When I think of taking dead aim, I can't think of a better example than Jack Nicklaus and the obvious care he took to aim at his target. Jack said that most shots were missed before the club was even taken back, emphasizing the need for setting up to hit your target and having the correct mental attitude.
After another frustrating round today, I realized that I had been caught up in thinking about my golf swing instead of taking dead aim. When I mentioned it to Steve, who was also struggling, he realized he was doing the same thing. We played the last few holes telling eachother what our target was. We didn't always hit it. But we both played better. In fact, I finished with back to back birdies.
The time to think about your swing is on the practice range. When you hit the links, it's time to take dead aim. That's the way to play golf.