Saturday, September 10, 2011

How Great Golfers Think, Ch.5 - Segmenting (during practice)

Where my last post discussed the ideas of segmenting a round into "mini-games" to make it easier to reach a goal and focus on the task at hand, chapter five doesn't leave it there. The chapter also discusses using segmenting in practice to hone our skills. In discussing segmenting a round, a round is divided into "fractions". In segmenting for honing a skill, we divide the skill into "parts".

As an example, the chapter discusses how skill in chipping might be broken down. I'll pull from the chapter here . . . the first skill you work on "might be the line the ball starts out on. The next could be the height of the chip, then how close it came to the landing spot you intended it to." Then, ". . . whether the ball rolls out or checks up. Then you could look at whether it comes up short or if you hit it hard enough to roll a few inches past the hole, meaning that the shot had a chance to go in." Finally ". . . would be your emotional state. Are you hesitant, anxious, confident?"

The workbook section for this chapter suggests looking at the weakest part of your game then breaking it into components that are small enough to work on and make improvements. At this point, I'd say my weakest part is approach shots. When I can hit greens, I'm generally not going to make worse than par. But there are days I just have a hard time hitting greens, even when I'm keeping the ball in play off the tee.

So how would I break down improving at my approach shots? Perhaps it would be something like this:

  • Making clean contact, ball first, divot after the ball.

  • Hitting the ball the right distance, not too far, not too short . . . misses pin high. This is distance control with the swing, but also proper club selection.

  • Hitting the ball on line.

  • Shaping the shot (draw, fade, high, low) for the situation at hand.

  • Emotional state: am I committed to the shot and confident in my decision?

I'm at the point where I'm not too bad with the first two, so perhaps I need to start with the third one. My misses do tend to be pin high, but I'll often pull my shot to the left. Only slightly less often when I miss, I line up too far right and either end up hitting a straight shot or "compensating" and hitting an extreme pull-hook.

The next time I'm out practicing, I'll keep this breakout in mind and report back here.

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