Editor's note: Each week, Megan Padua, a teaching professional at Maidstone Club (East Hampton, N.Y.) and Belfair Plantation (Bluffton, S.C.), and one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers, offers tips and advice for women golfers.
By Megan Padua
Avoiding an obstacle on the golf course can actually draw you towards it. When you tell yourself not to focus on something, your mind doesn't know the difference between "do" and "don't". Try this: Close your eyes and picture a lion. Try to see his big mane, wagging tail and sharp teeth. Now tell yourself, "Don't think about the lion, don't think about the lion's mane, don't think about him waving his tail or snarling his teeth". The only thing you're thinking about right now is that big lion.
The same applies to your golf game. When you say, "Don't hit it into the water," your brain hears, "Hit it in the water". Committing to your target is essential if you want to execute any golf shot. Tell yourself what you want to do, not what you want to avoid, and you'll have a much better chance of succeeding.
Next time, instead of thinking, "Don't hit it in the water," you might want to tell yourself, "Hit it to the tree with a right-to-left ball flight". Start to commit to your intention, define clear targets, and see vividly what you want your ball to do.