By Janie C. Farina LPGA

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you, all they show is limitation. Believe with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.” ~From “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach

Recently I took two of my novice golf students to the actual playing field — the golf course — for the very first time. I was curious to see what their priorities would be when we got up to the first tee.

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Both players calculated yardage and club selection. Great!

Both proceeded to tee the ball up in the middle of the tee markers, without a clue as to where the best spot to tee the ball up was (right or left, back or front, level or not.)

Both players took several practice swings staring face down at the ball, gripping the club several times, getting the ball position and stance comfortable, then looking at the target from the side several times, shifting more and more to the right of the target line with each step.

Oops! The wheels came off right then and there…

The first player hit the ball exactly where she was aiming: way right. The other player yanked it way left coming across the target line with a big pull.

The entire middle of the golf hole remained untouched, along with the putting cup remaining empty from two feet out.

I could hear myself repeating, to no avail, “Get back behind the ball looking at the target; don’t take practice swings unless you refocus behind the ball looking with both eyes before placing your feet; tee off on the same side of the tee box as the trouble; pick a level lie off the tee; get your distance first putting; and play more break ….

By the time we got to the second hole, both players were clearly frustrated.

Why, when these players have great looking golf swings, do their golf shots resemble a bird hit by gunshot? Simply put, each player’s aim was not on the right flight path, resulting in a ball flight offline zig zagging to each side of the fairway. Likewise, a putt/approach shot too short, too low on a slope, too far right/left will dodge the intended target every time.

By the third hole, these players were picking better spots to tee off from, playing away, not facing, the trouble on the tee box, lining up from behind the ball after a practice swing, aiming for more slope/break from tee through the green, prioritized “speed/ distance” on approaches and putts.

Priorities shifted to focus on the destination of the ball versus how to “fly.”

The result: my players started to settle into a productive formation that showed and greater understanding of ball flight patterns and course/ball migration.

So, if your golf game looks great on the “runway” or driving range, and takes a nosedive on the golf course, reroute, refocus, re-prioritize your thoughts with a better understanding of ball and golf course conditions that affect flight patterns.

Keep it fun…Remember to keep the flow and let it go!

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