Why Easy Golf Swings and Shots Aren’t Just for Beginners

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect" by Bob Rotella. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What are the benefits of choosing easy golf swings over difficult ones? Do you gain the advantage by planning out your shots?

Simply shots may seem like a beginner’s choice, but even professionals have to take it easy sometimes. Shots like these are great for golfers because they release tension and build confidence that may have been lost with a failed difficult shot.

Let’s look at why easy golf swings are nothing to be ashamed of, and how to plot them out on the course.

Selecting Easy Shots

In Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect, Bob Rotella recommends that you choose easy golf swings whenever possible, as you’re likely to feel more confident and relaxed when you take low-difficulty shots, which increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to hit the ball well. By contrast, when you choose more difficult shots, your perception of the shot’s difficulty can cause your confidence to waver, which can negatively affect your swing.

For example, suppose you’re a long way from the hole on your second shot on a par four. You’re torn between wanting to play a conservative shot that sets you up for an easy chip on, or more riskily trying to aim for the green, which you know is on the edge of your maximum range. In this scenario, Rotella recommends you choose the setup shot, as it’s easier and will make you feel more confident. On the other hand, if you aim for the riskier strategy and shoot for the green, your anxiety about the shot’s difficulty might lead you to take a bad swing.

(Shortform note: To choose easier shots, remember that certain types of shots are more mechanically complicated than others. Golf experts assert that chip shots are easier than pitches and putts are easier than chips. These experts argue that because of the relative mechanical simplicity of putts and chips, most golfers are much more consistent when hitting these types of shots. Whenever possible, choose a mechanically simple shot, as it will often be easier and more consistent than the alternatives.)

Select Your Shots in Advance

Before important rounds, Rotella recommends making a detailed, shot-by-shot plan for each hole. Choosing shots in advance is advantageous because you’re more likely to think clearly before a round than under the intense pressure of competition.

(Shortform note: While Rotella contends that it’s difficult to think under pressure, others have argued that under certain conditions, stress can help you think more quickly and decisively. Research has shown that stressed minds process negative information much faster than calm minds do. Experts theorize that this enables you to quickly process and respond to dangerous situations—on the golf course, this tendency may help you respond to adverse conditions and recover from poor shots.)

To develop your plan, Rotella suggests walking the course a day or two before playing it. Walking the course allows you to better estimate the yardage, hazards, and lie you’ll be facing on key shots, along with any other factors that might affect your shots. As you walk the course, imagine the shots you’d like to hit on each hole. For each hole, choose a set of easy shots that make you feel confident. Doing so ensures you’ll have a safe, reliable plan when the big day arrives.

(Shortform note: If you’re unable to walk the course before a big round, consider using online tools to craft your strategy. Experts note that there are online guides to many popular courses and that when these aren’t available, Google Earth can be used to get a rough overview of a course. Using Google Earth, you can spot hazards and accurately measure distances, enabling you to plan your strategy without setting foot on the course.)

Why Easy Golf Swings and Shots Aren’t Just for Beginners

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Bob Rotella's "Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect summary:

  • A framework for improving the mental side of your gold game
  • Why thoughts, confidence, and strategy are more important than your swing
  • Techniques for choosing the right thoughts, goals, and shots

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *