This volume of the New Horizons Golf Approach Pocket Coach Series is dedicated to the feeling most
golfers dream about. Beginners feel it once in a great while. Avid golfers feel it periodically, and the
accomplished golfer flows in and out of it with regularity. However, few know how to reproduce it on
demand. Even professional golfers dream about the secret to its execution.
Ben Hogan had it, and everyone that watched him knew he had it. The mystique he left the golfing
world was founded in his mastery of it. Hogan set the standard and golfers have been searching for
the secret ever since. Since Hogan set the standard, only a few have owned the ability to reproduce
the feel. Players like Lee Trevino and Moe Norman are a couple of those players.
Thru observation and experience a couple of things have become quite clear. If you don’t first
establish the game’s true fundamentals, you will never find it. Additionally, if you don’t nurture
consistent focus, you’ll never sustain it. So, what is It? Why was Mr. Hogan so revered by all who
watched him? And why were his peers in awe of what he possessed?
The answer is, “The Secrets of Pure Ball Striking.” It seems to me that if all golfers were granted one
wish, most of them would choose to be a good ball striker over being a good scorer.
There’s something captivating about the sound and feel of good ball striking. And the experience is
often more luring than shooting your career low score. I know most of my students recall their best
ball striking rounds more than their low scoring rounds.
The low scoring rounds are usually qualified with, “Yeah, but I made every putt I looked at.” Whereas,
they don’t seem to care as much about how they putt on good ball striking days. PGA Tour
Professionals are more concerned with their style of play than amateurs, and their style tends to fall
into one of three categories. Players are known to be fundamentally sound, great ball strikers, or
great shot makers. Then there are the few exceptional players that seem to possess the skills of all
Fundamentally Sound golfers tend to be very consistent, are mechanically efficient, and play the
percentages. Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Scott Simpson, Mark O’Meara, Loren
Roberts, Jeff Sluman, and Ernie Els all fit this category.
These players tend to play the majors quite well. Even though they are not necessarily known as
either great ball strikers, or great shot makers, they all have a tremendous command over their
fundamentals and their ability to focus under pressure. These players all seem to make the most out
of their talents, while other more naturally gifted players may not.
Great ball strikers also display a sense of consistency. However, they do so while compressing the
ball more purely. Though most good ball strikers play their shots very accurately, not all good ball
strikers express such a high level of precision. It is generally the great ball strikers who display higher
levels of precision. Good ball strikers are always on the verge of becoming great, yet falter more
often under pressure.
For example, Ben Hogan was known as one of the greatest ball strikers of all time, while Vijay Singh is
known as a very good ball striker. Though Vijay Singh is one of the hardest working pro’s on the PGA
Tour, his precision could be better. Of course I am comparing him to Ben Hogan, so don’t think for a
minute that Vijay Singh’s skills are subpar. Indeed he continues to improve and will soon contend for
the #1 player in the world status.
Other great ball strikers include Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Nick Price, Bill
Glasson, Steve Elkington, Scott McCarron, David Toms, and David Duval. All these players display
good command over the fundamentals as well as the skills of compressing the ball with consistency
and precision. This makes them all contenders in major championships.
Great shotmakers tend to depend a lot on their imagination and natural abilities, including a
tremendous amount of talent with their eye-hand coordination.
Although these players may also have some ball striking prowess, they are more well known for their
ability to maneuver the ball. They also tend to play with enthusiasm and a go-for-broke attitude.
Their ability to play magical shots from trouble seems to be endless. We love to watch these players
because they make the game exciting.
Players like Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros, Chi Chi Rodriquez, Corey Pavin, Phil
Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia all bring this type of excitement to the game. In many ways they lure the
fans into this type of play, and therefore become fan favorites. These players all enjoy the challenge
of playing the ideal shot for the present situation. They enjoy working the ball into the course design,
or out of trouble situations. “Lay-Up” is rarely a shot selection for these players.
As mentioned earlier, there are players who seem to have a command of all three categories. Ben
Hogan was certainly known as a great ball striker, but I believe he possessed the full range of skills. I
also believe, Bobby Jones, Mickey Wright, George Knudson, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo,
and Tiger Woods have shown their prowess of all three categories.
As a side note, the great triumvirates of each era seem to have one shotmaker, one ball striker, and
one fundamental player. Hagen-Jones- Sarazen, Snead-Hogan-Nelson, Palmer-Player-Nicklaus, and
Ballesteros- Watson-Nicklaus all come to mind.
Interestingly enough, during those periods that there was not a triumvirate, somebody seemed to
reign who possessed all the skills. Greg Norman did so for the longest stretch as number one in the
world. Nick Faldo seemed to be the Major Championship Man. Now Tiger Woods seems is
dominating the scene.
Keep an eye out in the future. We may witness Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Ernie Els as the
next triumvirate. Or, maybe Vijay Singh will round out the pack. With this overview in mind, if you
dream of the sound of percussion, if you savor the sweetness of pure ball striking, then this Pocket
Coach is for you.
One last note before we get started, I am going to describe all the physical actions in terms of being a
right-sided golfer. I apologize to the left-handed golfer, but the condensed length of this Pocket
Coach book makes it too difficult to describe all actions from both sides of the ball. I will, however, use
the terms dominant and non-dominant as much as possible without disrupting the flow of instruction.
This is the table of contents from Ball Striking Skills. It may give
you some insights as to the topics covered in the New Horizons
Golf Approach Pocket Coach Volume Four.
Table Of Contents
Part One – Compress The Ball
The Line Of Compression
Athletic Weight Shift
Weight Shift – Not Swaying
Grounding Your Weight Shift
Part Two – The Skills
Establishing the Line
Weight Shift Leads Thru Impact
Tighten The Turn
Linking Everything Together
Finding Your Rhythm
Train, Train, Train
Let’s Play Golf
Let’s Play G-O-L-F TM
Playing for a target score is only one way of implementing an on course strategy. I believe to truly
play the game you cannot worry so much about your scoring strategy. I think everyone is aware of
how well they are scoring, and they know they need to score as low as they can. So, since the idea
of scoring is always present you do not need to focus on it. Instead, focus on playing the game.
Truly playing the game involves feeling a game that fascinates you. It involves striving to play the
type of game you usually dream of playing. It’s about finding out your potential and
manifesting it in your play. It’s about engaging yourself in the ongoing drama of sport. It’s about
absorbing yourself into the possibility of expressing your true potential.
It’s about Gaming Out Life’s Fascinations.
So, when you walk out on the golf course, I’m inviting you to take the plunge, to go for it. I’m inviting
you to play golf without putting so much emphasis on scoring low. Win or lose, score low or high,
enjoy the adventure, keep a good attitude, and take something away from every round that makes
you a more accomplished golfer.
|New Horizons Golf Approach
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