With the advances in all kinds of technologies in today’s world, there probably is no limit as to what could be developed. Think of the golf world without GPS yardage systems, for example.
What if you could stand behind your ball, facing your target, push a button,( or maybe voice command) and be able to create a big 6 inch virtual reality red line on the ground going though the ball to the target. Wow! Kind of like the football telecasts showing where first down markers on TV.
Then all you would have to do is walk to the side of the line/ball and just swing at that line. The ball would just react to how well you swung at the line. I would bet that hitting a golf ball straighter would be a whole lot easier. Set-ups and swing alignments would improve DRASTICALLY!!
Hope it doesn’t actually happen, at least not in my lifetime. I like the game as is.
Hardest aspect of hitting a good shot
Years ago I was told that the hardest aspect of hitting a good golf shot, any shot, is the fact that you have to stand to the side of where the ball rests.
Then take a stick (shaft) with a hunk of steel sticking outward (clubhead) and hit a motionless ball sitting on the ground, get it in the air, with a controlled direction and distance.
I was taking a lesson one day to correct what I thought was some problem in my mechanics. Figured I would get some explanation in order to make some swing adjustment.
But instead out came an old 1/2 x 3 inch wooden board, about four feet in length. It had a line drawn across it about in the middle, perpendicular to its length. It was then that I was re-introduced to the Boss.
The old pro placed a ball on the board where the line crossed its width. He pointed the board towards a tree and told me to hit the ball off the board. Using an iron, I hit it right at the tree, tried three more, all flying straight towards the tree. He then jacked the board around and asked me where the board was now pointing. I said it was pointing at the sand bunker. He put a ball on the board and I hit it at the sand bunker, three more times, all right in the bunker. All the swings felt easy, relaxed and controlled; after I got used to hitting balls off a wooden board.
He then looked at me, shaking his head, and said “Bob, the ball is telling me your swing is fine, your “aimer” is off. There IS always a Line (target line) present, it is the Boss and you should never question your Boss”. I might have questioned myself hitting golf balls off a wooden board but not where the ball was going, which was were the board was aimed.
Lesson learned – and still learning
When the Boss (the board) was taken away that day, it was not the same feeling swing, nor was I as relaxed or trusting of my swings. Wow, my “aimer” was really off! I had become sloppy with an important fundamental. Once I re-established my minds-eye view of the Line, swings started to feel balanced and functional, the trust returned. I didn’t need any mechanical adjustment after-all.
When I look down at the image of a ball I see it sitting on top of a Target Line, or Flight Line, base of swing plane or whatever else you want to call the Line, or excuse me “Boss.” That Line, the mental image of it, can be your best friend or be a friend long lost that you are dying to see again…and soon!
Since it is invisible and you are standing to the side of it, it can be a real illusion, figment of your imagination, yet very real in purpose, and hard to trust at times. It is super easy to question where that invisible, mental Line is actually pointing towards.
What if there WAS a big 6 inch virtual reality red line on the ground going though the ball all the way to your target. Your set-up would be easier. After a couple successful swings, your trust and relaxation during swings would improve.
Striking a golf ball pure
The eccentric Canadian pro golfer Moe Norman (of whom Sam Snead to Lee Trevino to Vijay Singh said was the purest striker of a golf ball they had ever seen!) was thought to be autistic, never diagnosed, but full of strange misunderstood actions. (see Moe at golfsilver.com under Z-Action _ MM link)
When asked what he saw when hitting golf balls he responded “I just see lines going where I want the ball to go.”
There is a lot of creditable golf historical facts that prove he didn’t hit too many crooked shots. Autism aside, it makes one wonder about the Boss. Sure would like to ask Moe what his methods of visualizing those invisible minds-eye lines were?
If there were methods?
What if he said it was also RED?!?
The Rain-Man of golf, if you will!
Attributes of a Line
I have come to realize that the Line’s purposes are usually connected to set-up habits and basic swing directions.
It helps to develop good habits during any set-up that should take seconds to achieve after repeated, practicing of a set-up ROUTINE. For others it may help in feeling directions of backswings and/or forward swings. To many, it works in both areas.
Some of you advanced golfers that prefer moving the ball with certain controlled curves (Bubba Watson being one extreme) are just standing or swinging right or left of the “Boss” to create the fade or draw. Those of you that never have any idea where the ball is going, probably don’t have or never have had a “Boss”.
May I suggest getting a game with a Boss involved, and try to never question that Boss. Not always real easy to do, but in order to keep a good job, you should never question the Boss.
Finding the Line
There are probably hundreds of ways to visualize the Line.
I have always preferred to pick a ground target fairly close in front of ball. Figuring closer is better than further from the ball at rest.
That ground target (blade of grass, divot, pebble, or whatever catches the eye) is found ALWAYS when initially facing the target, keeping ball in-between you and where you would like ball to go. That’s when the ground target is found and established.
While keeping my eyes on that ground target, I come to the side of the Line and the ball, take a quick and practiced look at ground target and ball to establish a minds-eye vision of a Line.
Johnny Miller at British Open
Some players like to look at the target ahead of them and then draw a mental path from there while getting ready to swing. I’d say okay for a player who likes to do it, (probably an advanced golfer), and good for them.
But, on those days when set-up and ball flight is erratic, it might be due to a broken or questioned Line/Boss that day. Swing might be fine, just the “aimer” is off. It might be time to find a different process of finding a better alignment set-up and thus swing path via the Line. Excuse me again, the Boss.
We all have to use our intellect and imagination when playing golf, whether it be playing real golf or miniature golf.
And by the way, when putting you really hope that you don’t face too many straight and perfectly level putts. They are the hardest to judge and commit too.
Drills and Thoughts of the Line
for Set-up and Swing Paths -different strokes for different folks-
Board under ball with OR without a ball
Imagine a “ board” resting under ball pointing towards your target. (of course!)
If you actually try it to practice, the height of board from the ground should be no more than ¼ to ½ inch high. Hit a few off the board, then off the ground only, staying parallel to the board.
Mats are probably best because the ground is generally more level. Grass is fine, except ball might have harder time resting on board before you swing because grass tee lines are generally not that level.
A “wooden” yard stick would work as a great practice tool with or WITHOUT hitting balls. Just swinging at the yard stick with NO ball is a great way to train your muscles.
Just swing on the top of yard stick, pick an inch to swing at.
The better you get, the closer you come to hitting at your chosen inch.
Drill the Tree
When imagining the ground target (pebble, blade of grass, etc.) picture a big wide tree that you want to drive the ball right in the middle of. Could be a thin one also.
Tour Pro Corey Pavin has said he used this method.
On the same theme, picturing a train’s tunnel that you are trying to hit the ball into. Line up with the railroad tracks entering the tunnel. This image/thought are probably more for the right-sided brain people.
I like to put two sticks together about 6 inches apart and hit range balls while the sticks lay on the ground. (as pictured below)
Some days the sticks are kind of bothersome or annoying. Those are the times when the swing might not be quite as good.
Other days, I hardly think about them, other than don’t hit em. Good swings that day.
Note: Hitting longer clubs might require wider widths to your sticks, narrower for irons.Remember, whatever you use not to have any more than ¼ to ½ in height.
Those popular brightly colored alignment sticks of today are excellent, just use TWO to them.
QuickTime Player required to show above swing video.
Picture of a track of light bulbs, on the Line, with ball being one of them. Swing back and smash as many as you can, same thought going forward.
When I first heard this one my thought was... Light Bulbs??
I have had students that visualized a ground target behind the ball as well as ahead of where ball is resting. That image worked for them.
So, what if there were a track of light blubs on the Line going back. I say OK, now your tracing the straight line on backswing. Straight back is good.
But now if there were light bulbs going forward also, wouldn’t that be good also? Straight forward is good.
So maybe the light bulbs thought isn’t all that strange after all.
Wall on outer edge
Picture a wall sitting just outside on the outer edge, of what ever your image of the Line might be.
Those of us that swing too inside-out or outside-in on backswing and/or downswing would be nicking the wall, or should I say crashing into the wall.
If your imagination has the clubhead traveling close but not actually against the wall, your swings might be a little more back and forth. The shaft should then be pointing towards and thus tracing the Line.
Swing Plane board
As many of you know, I have a white Swing Plane board (3 by 4’) that I use on the teaching tee line.
It sits on an incline plane (slanted from roughly belt line area to ground). At the bottom of that beat-up, abused flat board is where the Boss sits on the ground.
If one swings fairly close to the SP board without hitting it going backwards or forward, then the closer to the Line you have swung. Anyone’s welcome to come over and check things anytime. Not a complicated device, but effective.
Food for thought regarding the concept of the Line
Actually, we would be better off “ trying” to hit a Line on the ground as opposed to the ball.
“Trying” to hit the ball is hazardous.
Hitting ball by letting it get in the way of your swing can be more efficient and simple.
What happens when we take a practice swing?
What happens when there is a ball to be hit?
Not the same.....right?
No, we really can’t fool ourselves when there is a ball in front of us. Our brain tells us it is there.
I have heard of players, (probably desperate souls), squinting or closing their eyes during swings.
Sorry, but that's not the way to play golf.
Can we see the Line during a swing?
Of course not.
Our eyes are looking at the image of the ball, hopefully visualizing and feeling a good swing.
One or Two per-determined swing thought(s) allows our brain to send messages to our muscles for feel.
We feel the impact of the ball, understanding it’s a micro-second delay to brain, then our eyes follow where it is going.
The ball just tells us how well we used and trusted the Boss.