Pro Tip #16

PGA Pro Tips: Spots, Shots, and Thoughts: 3 Word Mantra for Smarter Golf

The next time you play try repeating this simple mantra to lower your score: spots, shots, and thoughts. You’ll make smarter course navigation decisions, better club selections, and simplify your mental game.

“Spots” refers to where you want your ball to go. You want to be specific. “In the fairway” with your drive is too general (even if that is your goal). Instead pick out just one side of the fairway, or better yet a specific landing area or target in the distance. When hitting into the green imagine a bulls-eye with concentric rings centered on the spot where you want your ball to land. Focus on throwing a dart into the bulls-eye. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much more accurate and consistent you will be when you “aim small to miss small.” Pick your spots.

“Shots” refers to what you need to hit the ball to your spot: club selection and trajectory. Hitting driver is not always your smartest option off the tee, just as a full swing iron is not always your best choice hitting into the green. For every “spot” that you identify you will almost always have at least two club choices that will get the job done. A 3-wood will often get you where you need to be off the tee, but with greater accuracy and consistency. A three-quarter 9-iron will travel as far as a full-swing pitching wedge, with a lower trajectory and more accuracy. Good players learn that it is the spot that matters, not the shot, which is why you’ll seldom see a Tour pro take a full swing with a short approach club.

“Thoughts” refers to what you think about during the swing. There is a lot of confusion around what constitutes the best swing thought. As a rule anything “mechanical” should be avoided. Thoughts about tempo and targets will yield better results. Here’s some of the best advice we can give you for what to think about: When you have a longer shot (generally anything beyond 150 yards), focus on directional accuracy; when you have a shorter approach shot into the green focus on your exact yardage to a specific target.

The sooner you start using “Spots, Shots, and Thoughts” the sooner you will start shooting lower scores.