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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Try to Hit the Perfect Shot

Just about everyone has either read, or at least heard of, Bob Rotella's book Golf is Not a Game of Perfect.  We all know that perfection in golf is only a dream.  And yet, in Bobby Jones on Golf, Bobby Jones provided some interesting advice on how to improve our scoring.  He essentially advised us to try to be perfect.  He wrote:

  "Every golfer is of limited ability--some more so, others less.  We can't always help this, but I believe I can make a few common sense suggestions having nothing to do with technique, that will help to take strokes off any man's game.
  The first real big lesson I learned, and it was medal competition that taught me, was that every stroke in the round was of equal importance, and that each was worthy of and demanded the same intensity of concentration.  Before I had much experience, I used invariably to allow myself to become careless when confronted by a simple-looking shot.  A wide fairway or a big green was always the hardest for me to hit.  But no golf shot is easy unless it is played with a precise and definite purpose, and with perfect and complete concentration upon results.  The easiest way to assure minute attention on every shot is to cultivate the attitude of mind that will be satisfied by nothing less than perfection.  If it looks easy to get it onto the green, try to get close to the hole; if it looks easy to get within a ten-foot radius, try to lay it dead.  Always strive to go as far toward the ultimate end of holing out as it is reasonably possible to go.
  The surest way to collect 7's and 8's and to pile up a disgraceful score is to become angry and rattled.  It won't cost much in the way of strokes, when you slice a drive or pull an iron, if you throw your club away or curse your luck, because you still have time to get over it before the next shot.  But if you look up in the bunker and leave your ball sitting where it was, you had best think twice before you hit it again... Don't hit the ball until you are ready, until every other consideration has been excluded from your mind."

This advice from Bobby Jones to strive for perfection might be seen as being contrary to the fact that he openly admitted to, in his best rounds, not hitting more than six shots exactly as he planned-- other than putts.  He well knew that scoring in golf was more about recovering from mistakes than hitting perfect shots.  But, in order to play your best, the effort put forward on every shot must be consistent, and the effort must be to hit the absolute best shot we are capable of hitting every time we strike the ball.

And when I think of who does this best right now, I immediately think of Jordan Spieth.  I haven't seen anyone grind out a round as hard as he does since Tiger in his prime.  He leaves it all out there on the course, seeming to live and die by every shot.  It's compelling to watch.

It isn't easy to do.  If it was easy, we'd all do it.  But the more we try to hit perfect shots, even though we may not have a perfect swing, the better our scores will be and the greater the satisfaction we'll derive from playing.  Bobby said there was no shame in taking the game seriously.  We must be realistic about what we are capable of, but we should always at least try to hit the best shot we possibly can every time we swing the club.  I can't say I've ever managed it myself.  But, hope springs eternal, they say.  Whatever the hell that means.