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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Be Ready

In Golf My Way, Jack Nicklaus stressed the importance of setting up properly to hit a shot.  To Jack it was imperative, when hitting any shot that meant anything, that he feel exactly right before he pulled the trigger.  In his early days this led to him being accused of being a slow player.  

Jack was definitely a deliberate player who took great pains to ensure he was in a position, mentally and physically, to make the shot.  But he argued that he walked to the ball and was able to analyze the situation and select the shot he desired to play quickly.  It was only in his set-up that he became so deliberate.  He was simply incapable of playing an anyway-shot--the shots we mere mortals are so prone to hitting; where we know we aren't set up correctly, or we aren't really ready to hit the shot, but we hit it anyway.  If Jack didn't feel set, he wouldn't pull the trigger.

Jack wrote: "I feel that hitting specific shots--playing the ball to a certain place in a certain way--is 50 percent mental picture, 40 percent setup, and 10 percent swing.  That's why setting up takes me so long, why I have to be so deliberate.  In competition I am not simply trying to hit a good shot, but rather the perfect shot for the particular situation... unless I can set up exactly right in relation to the shot I have pictured, I know I have no chance of executing it as planned.  There I must get perfectly set--it's almost a compulsion--before I can pull the trigger.  My mind simply will not let me start the swing until I'm "right," no matter how long it takes... The point I'm stressing is the vital importance of setup on every shot you hit.  This includes picturing the shot, aiming and aligning the clubface and your body relative to your target, and placing the ball relative to your intended swing arc, assuming your over-all address posture, and mentally and physically conditioning yourself just before pulling the trigger."

Jack said he was strongly against slow play.  His advice differs from some who consider certain "rituals" as being important to the pre-shot routine.  He simply advises us to be "ready" before we take the club back.  This means we might take more time over some shots than we might over others.  The pre-shot routine isn't a ritual to follow, in the sense that we always make certain we take so many practice swings, look at the target so many times, tug on our shirt sleeve, or open and close the flap on our glove.  We simply want to make certain we are prepared, mentally and physically, to hit the shot.  Every golfer has the right to do that.

More to come from the greatest Major champion the game has ever seen in future articles.