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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Commit to your Target

I came across this picture from Golf Digest and it reminded me of a statement I heard years ago…”give life to your target”.


In this photo Annika Sorenstam is hitting pitch shots to her caddy.  She was focused on hitting to a specific target and distance.  By hitting to her caddy, she was in essence giving the target life.  I think doing this really increases your focus as you don’t want your caddy to be running all over the place.  It also helps one improve their visualization skills as you can imagine you are hitting to your friend or coach.

From 1981-1984 I was an assistant golf professional at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth.  Ben Hogan was a member there and we crossed paths on a daily basis.  After working at his office at the Ben Hogan Company all morning he would then go to lunch at Shady Oaks.  After lunch he would come through the golf shop and these were his exact words to me…”Sonny, you got a shag boy for me today?”

Mr. Hogan would take his shag bag full of balls and my cart attendant then head to the Little 9.  The Little 9 was a short course at Shady Oaks with eight par 3’s and one par 4.  The par 4 hole fairway was a perfect place to practice and Mr. Hogan would only hit balls into a right to left wind.  He would position my attendant appropriately and begin with short irons progressing to driver.  By hitting to my attendant he was giving the target life.  But, Mr. Hogan frowned upon the attendant catching the ball, he wanted to see it land.  Mr. Hogan might be out there for 2 hours or more practicing.  

One of the stories I like to tell is one day after a long practice session my attendant came in the shop and pulled his shirt up to his chest.  There were two huge welts on his chest and I asked what happened?  He said he had lost the ball in the sun and Mr. Hogan pegged him with a 7 iron shot, then, before he could get up, he hit him againπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚!  On days I didn’t have a “shag boy” Mr. Hogan would take one club and hit shots as he walked the course.  

On occasion he would practice on the range and he always signed a ticket for the range balls he hit!


That’s me in 1982!  Anyway, the point is, hitting practice balls to a live target is good for your focus.  This is pretty much impossible to do now days but I recommend to use your imagination as you practice.  I promise you will see increased concentration and visualization of your target.

I also used to practice on the Little 9 and I would hit from the par 4 fairway to an area short of one of the par 3 greens.  It was a secluded green surrounded by trees and I had to really focus on my aim.  I had my own shag balls but didn’t have use of a shag boy.  I would hit 75-80 balls then go pick them up.  It’s amazing when you know you have to pick them up your concentration goes way up.  Since Shady Oaks was not a busy club I could hit 200-300 balls per day.  There is no doubt these focused practice sessions helped me win the 1982 Metro Chapter Assistants Championship and win the Player of the Year award!


From this experience I recommend when you practice try to focus on a narrow part of the range.  In other words try to find an imaginary grid between target flags/poles that is no more than 20 yards wide and focus on hitting every club in this grid.




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