Short game guide: work on your imagination

HAVING covered a few basic short game shots over the last couple of weeks, I want to talk to you about developing your range of shots and creativity around the green.
If you can put the ball close with your basic chips and standard bunker shots then you are already well ahead of the curve and will be saving shots.
Beyond these basic movements, there are countless shots you can play around with. The high lob will be very similar in technique to your bunker swing. Practise it, learn to commit to the shot, swinging positively through to a finish, a requisite for every golf shot. The low, checking pitch will be an extension of the basic chip with a little more wrist hinge. Again the key is swinging positively through the ball.
It would take too long to detail every step to hitting each different short game shot and would not be helpful. The next step in improving around the greens is to improve your imagination. Before each shot, visualise the flight of your chip, where it lands, how it runs out, breaks towards the hole. This process will help you as you start to make your practice swings as the brain now has a clear intention.
Your practice swings should represent that vision, let the image of the shot come to your hands. It all sounds a bit mystical but really we are just concentrating, becoming more absorbed in what we are doing. Don’t waste your practice swing, make the swing that you imagine will get the ball close to the hole, imagine the strike, watch the ball and your body will tell you if that is the right swing. Trust that feedback, our bodies and sub-conscious are much smarter than our conscious minds in executing these shots.
The more you do this, learning to concentrate and ‘get into the shot’ you will find that things happen automatically. You will picture a low running chip or high soft shot and set up accordingly without a conscious thought. At times, you will struggle to picture a shot. In this situation, start making practice swings and feel the shot in your fingertips.
Your mind will actually come up with an answer for you more often than not. So, this week, play around with your short game, experiment like a child and learn some new tricks. Remember, concentration is not something you have to force, it is natural.

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