Envisioning The Shot You Want To Hit: Does It Get Any Better?

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2009

UNITED STATES - MAY 12:  Padraig Harrington during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship held on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on May 12, 2007.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

It's one of my favorite aspects of golf: envisioning the shot you want to hit and then magically pulling it off.

No. 2 at Porter Valley Country Club is no stroll across the fairway.

The hole literally wraps around a mountain: 220 yards in front of the tee box spans a wide, deep, pure-white bunker. A fence like something out of The Shawshank Redemption runs along the left side of the hole, meaning automatic OB. Beyond the bunker is simply a mistake because there is a massive tree with branches for days, leaving an impossible second shot.

To the right is the promised land.

This hole epitomizes the blind tee shot, or what I refer to as the old "swing and pray you find your ball" hole.

I’m a lefty. 6’3. 185 pounds. I revel in a purely struck golf shot; it’s the crisp sound of contact intertwined with the next sight of the ball soaring high in the air that keeps bringing me back (even after the 3-putts and sh***s).

This was one of those shots.

One of those shots where I felt like a pro.

You know, like when Tiger pummels a drive down the fairway at Doral and immediately begins walking with the ball in mid-air, totally confident in where it will land.

This hole is 413 yards. I pulled my trusty three-iron to dispatch this giant. I used to fear the three-iron, but over the last year, as I have learned to control my distance and accuracy, its become my go-to club off the tee.

I aligned my Pro-V1X with the left edge of the monstrous mountain emerging from the right side of the fairway. I made a conscious effort in my pre-shot routine to bring back the club a little inside and really turn my hands over on my follow through in hopes of drawing the ball.

Then, after two smooth, deliberate practice swings, I stood behind my ball and imagined what this shot would look like. I refused to overanalyze the shot because as I had learned from years of competitive junior golf that such intense dissection of a golf shot tends to ruin the result.

It was simple. I had to trust my hands, trust my hips, but most of all, just believe that I could execute the shot.

Sure enough, it was gorgeous.

The moment after swinging through the ball, I was swept away by a tangible, crisp certainty.

Before the ball had reached its peak in the air, I had put my club away and was sighing in relief without a shadow of doubt.

The next time I encountered my ball, I was elated to find it 146 yards away directly in the middle of the fairway.

And what made it that much sweeter was that I planned it.

My round may not have been under par; may not have had under 30 putts; may not have had 15 greens in regulation.

But, that one shot remains an eradicable memory, reminding me of just how lucky I am to play this game.