By: Arlen Bento, WGCA contributing writer
After watching the 2015 US Open Chambers Bay in Washington, you really have to think that Jordan Spieth has the ability to carry American golf for a long time. Spieth displayed a lot of heart and focus in giving himself a chance to win the US Open, even with a disastrous double bogey coming down the stretch.
Watching Dustin Johnson three-putt the last hole to miss a playoff was brutal, but watching Spieth navigate what looked to be one of the toughest courses ever set up for a US Open was incredible. Spieth, who did not have full control of his golf ball all week, was a master at visual imagery with the help from his caddie Michael Greller. Greller, who had been previously employed as a caddie at Chambers Bay, did a masterful job of keeping Spieth focused on the task at hand.
Throughout the telecast, you could hear Greller telling Spieth to paint a picture, trying to get his player to focus on the shot at hand. This is a very powerful tool in playing competitive golf at the highest level. Being able to focus on the shot and what a player wants the shot to do helps tremendously in playing great golf.
Many times with a lot of the players that I coach, players forget to hone in on this powerful tool. If you really want to improve your game, you really have to work at your mental imagery when you play. Here is a checklist on how to improve your mental imagery skills:
1. Paint the picture – Before you select your club, stand behind the ball and commit mentally to the shape of the shot that you want to hit. Be very clear in your mind what your shot will look like in the air after you make your strike. If you are a draw player, you have to trust the shape you see in your mind. If you are a fade player, trust the shape you see.
2. Commit to your yardage – A lot of my younger players don’t do this well or with as much commitment as they should. Yardage is just not the numbers on the marker or the distance to the pin; it is the calculating of where you want to land the ball to have the best chance at getting close to the hole, taking into consideration the playing conditions.
3. Commit to your club – Once you have your picture and your club yardage, you have to commit to your club. Once you have selected your club, you have to get into your pre-shot routine to get ready to make your play on the ball.
4. Routine – Now that you have your picture image of your shot, commitment to your yardage and a commitment to your club, it is time to trust your pre-shot routine and make your play. All of my players start behind the golf shot, painting the picture of the shot once more before they move into the hitting area. Once a player starts to the hitting area, practice habits take over and the player just has to get through what they do before the hit the shot. I encourage all of my players to have the same swing routine on every play, especially if they are playing well. I coach a one-swing or two-swing pre-shot to get the feel of the play once the player has moved next to the golf ball, all the time keeping in mind the visual image of the shot.
5. Let it go! Once the player has gotten into the ballstriking position, the easy part of the game just takes over. With the mind clear, focus on the shot and trust in the swing, the player has the best opportunity to make solid contact with the golf ball, dramatically increasing the opportunity to hit the shot in the way that they visualized.
I hope this helps improve your golf game and that of your students!
Master Teaching Professional Arlen Bento Jr. is a golf coach, golf sales business owner, golf product developer and golf writer living in Jensen Beach, Florida. He is a former professional tournament player and is a national award-winning head golf professional at the PGA Country Club at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, FL. He can be reached via Facebook at www.facebook.com/arlenbentojr or on his blog http://arlenbentojr.blogspot.com or on his business website www.abjgolfsales.com.