Golf is not a reflex action, but the nearer you can get your game to it, the better. In the actual striking of the ball, very little extra thought is needed to supplement the plan you've previously arrived at for playing that shot. It is, of course, impossible to separate the mental (the thinking out of the shot) completely from the physical (the actual shotmaking), but a golfer stands to profit if he can separate the two as much as possible. I think Henry Ransom does this very well.
Your thinking should be completed prior to taking your stance. As you walk down the fairway to your ball, begin to think out the upcoming shot, where you want to hit it, how hard you want to hit it and so on. Walk out to one side of the ball as you look the shot over. As in putting, this "triangling" can help you get a better sense of distance. Don't wait until you're standing over the ball to do your thinking. You will tighten up muscularly then. You're bound to. Think the shot out first. Then, when you step up over the ball, just play your shot. Don't give yourself too much time over the ball, or you'll second-guess yourself. Be positive. The results are invariably better if you play the wrong club with decision rather than the right club with wavering confidence.
from DOW FINSTERWALD Tequesta Country Club, Tequesta, Fla.
NEXT WEEK: HAROLD CALLAWAY ON INSIDE-INSIDE