As discussed in Golfer’s Palette: Preparing for Peak Performance, there are five ball flight laws that golfers dance with on every shot. These laws have been proven to be invariable under given conditions; and they are absolute in influencing the flight of a golf ball. Three of these laws influence distance: clubhead speed; centeredness of contact of club with the ball; and angle of approach. Two of these laws influence direction: path of swing and clubface position. The purpose of this blog is to share how the practice of creative visualization has enabled this golfer to move knowledge of these fundamental ball flight laws into the bank of useful experience on the golf course.
To review, the practice of visualization your author is using has evolved to be three-fold: during pre-shot routine, make an estimate of the situation; creatively visualize being the ball; and visualize being the golfer. The learning experience surrounding the five ball flight laws has occurred during practice of being the ball. This part of the pre-shot routine has involved sensually “being the ball” from where the ball is to its final resting point at the end of the shot. The six-point, mental menu, amended in this blog with some of the recently experienced ball flight laws, is as follows:
• Take a moment: breathe deep, quiet the mind, embrace the beauty of nature and be grateful for playing friends
• Impact of ball and club [centeredness of contact of club with the ball; and clubhead speed]
• Initial launch action: right of target, left of target, on-target [path of swing; clubface position (open, closed or square); and angle of approach]
• Flight pattern and trajectory [path of swing; clubface position; clubhead speed; and angle of approach]
• Landing bounce and roll characteristics [clubface position; angle of approach; clubhead speed; and centeredness of impact]
• Final resting point of ball
Let’s now be the ball for an experiential ride to its final resting point.
Impact: Am being smashed with the sweet spot of the five-iron clubface; feeling the ball compress and begin to make a right to left spin, coupled with perhaps some top spin; and am conscious of a bullet-like sound as the club smacks the ball.
Initial launch: Am moving right of the target and spinning right to left; and am feeling a bit scuffed because of the inside-out swing path and closed clubface.
Flight pattern and trajectory: Am liking this flight because my favorite ride is a draw that glides through the air with the greatest of ease; and as the ground below passes and I start to make a final, gradual climb to elevation, I get really excited. It is now time to buckle-up because landing and bounce are not far away.
Landing bounce and roll characteristics: Wow, that was a jolt, an unexpected bounce straight up, a bit of left to right to roll, another jostle from a clump of grass and a nice gentle roll to my destination. This trek has really helped me begin to experience my behavior at landing and during my roll to the target. The 15 pages of discussion about “Shot Behavior” that Dave Pelz offers in his Shot Game Bible have started to come to life.
Final resting point: This has been a fun journey because I ended up in a “huge” garbage can with a blue-flagged pin in the middle. Great shot! Wow!
To date, the most significant outcome of this evolving, creative visualization process has been moving technical, theoretical, golf knowledge about ball flight laws to useful, on-the-course skills that can facilitate creative shot making on every golf shot. After 68 years of golf, this has truly been an “ah-ha” moment!