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Golf Shot vs. Golf Swing Mindset

Updated: Jun 14

The distinction between “playing the golf shot” and “playing the golf swing” may sound like a confusing concept, but I’d argue that it’s a crucial mental game aspect to grasp for anyone looking to improve their game. Let’s break it down and explore how this mindset can impact your performance on the range and the course.

Playing The Golf Swing

When you find yourself constantly analysing every swing – focusing on what went right, what went wrong, and what adjustments you need to make – you are in the realm of playing the golf swing. This is the player who obsesses over technical aspects like hip rotation, wrist angles, and shoulder turn after each shot. It's the individual who takes practice swings while fixating on perfecting their mechanics rather than the actual outcome of the shot.

Playing the golf swing involves an internal focus on the mechanics of your swing rather than the ultimate goal of getting the ball to go where you want it to go (making a golf shot).

Playing The Golf Shot

On the other hand, playing the golf shot is centred around the objective of getting the ball into the hole efficiently. This mindset involves considering external factors such as lie, wind conditions, and the desired trajectory of the shot. While you may have a few thoughts on how to execute the shot, the primary focus remains on the outcome rather than the technicalities of the swing.

An analogy with football illustrates the distinction well – making a quick decision on where to pass the ball based on the defense is akin to playing the game. Conversely, overthinking the mechanics of your pass in detail would be similar to playing golf swing (this can happen often when top players are taking penalties under pressure, and you might wonder how they manage to miss the target).

Key Takeaways

1) It can be challenging to maintain the “golf shot” mentality, especially when faced with poorly executed shots. Resisting the temptation to make constant swing adjustments is essential, and finding a way to manage this in a pre-shot routine can be extremely helpful by using self-talk, practice swings for feel, visualisation etc.

2) While working on your swing is important, save the technical tweaks for practice or the range. Consistent and focused practice is key to improvement, rather than constantly changing your approach mid-round.

3) Embracing the “golf shot” mindset can lead to better performance and a more enjoyable experience on the course. Focus on making the golf shot (not the golf swing) - assess all relevant factors, visualise your desired outcome, and execute. Repeat this process for each shot throughout the round and see what happens - it’s very likely to enhance your overall game (and your enjoyment of it).

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Golf player | Golf Coaching & Lessons | Coaching Fore Success | Sheffield, UK
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