I was speaking to a student today about pressure. He said, “My swing won’t hold up under pressure.” He always assumes bad shots translate to his swing flaws. My statement to him was, “I think your swing is solid. It is not your SWING that won’t handle tournament pressure. It is your MECHANICS that don’t stand up to pressure.” Bad mechanics open up a wound on a solid golf swing. They force you to contrive the motion in hopes of scratching out a good result. Most of the time, it is a position we adopt before we ever swing the club that ruins the shot. A good player is on the range and he is deciding whether or not to play you for money today. If he notices a number of quirky or individualistic aspects to your game, he figures that it might be hard for you to play well all day long or when the pressure is on, and decides to give you a try. On the other hand, if your method is simple and free of clutter, it will give him the feeling that you can hit good shots repeatedly and he will steer clear of you. Sometimes, a green driving range mat can be quite useful. When a good player comes to me to “find” his game, I begin on a green range mat. This mat has lines drawn on it that insure the same, correct ball position, alignment, and stance width. Over the course of time, the consistent mechanics begin to heal the wounded golf swing. When you know your mechanics have been the same (and correct) for thousands of balls in a row, you then know the things you feel are correct and worth grooving. Random experimentation makes it improbable that you will ever settle on those things that stand strong under pressure. When our actions, before we ever swing the club, are affirmative and purposeful, then our swing can start to build feel and instinct again. When our mechanics are sorted out, we need to do nothing more than look at the ball and swing. Our mind can lie peacefully and allow our swing to run its course. It is the best way to swing a club, to strike a golf ball and to play golf.
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