Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott are perhaps two of the most successful teachers in the game today. I say that because they coached Annika Sorenstam when she was dominating the LPGA Tour, and they also give advice to Yani Tseng, who is currently dominating the women’s game. But make no mistake, Nilsson and Marriott, founders of the Golf54 academy and Vision54 Coaching for the Future, also work with plenty of male golfers, including PGA Tour stalwart Kevin Streelman.
Nilsson and Marriott have written three books on golf with Golf World’s Ron Sirak. The latest, Play Your Best Golf Now, crystallizes the concept of the Think Box and the Play Box. Their first book, Every Shot Must Have a Purpose, however, introduces the concept. I think their approach will help you shoot lower scores almost immediately. Hey, if it works for Annika and Yani, why not give it a try.
Basically, Pia and Lynn contend that every shot has a decision line. That’s an imaginary line that divides the area where you do all your thinking and strategizing (the Think Box) from the area where you simply hit the shot (the Play Box). Annika was superb at this, says Sirak. Once she entered the Play Box, she never hesitated or became distracted. She simply went through her routine, trusted her technique and pulled the trigger. She left all of her thinking behind–in the Think Box.
Here is a short excerpt of the first book. Try their approach this weekend, and I bet you’ll play better golf.
As you stand in the THINK BOX you should consider all the variables for the shot: wind direction and strength, the lie of the ball (is it below your feet and will it thus fade away from your body?), the hazards you need to factor in, and, if you are in competition, the point at which you stand in the match. VERBALIZE your intentions for the shot. “I am going to hit a
6-iron at the tree behind the left corner of the green and the ball will fade toward the pin in the back right corner of the green. It is a good, firm 6-iron for me.” Imagine the shot you are going to hit.
The only time there is any indecision should be when you are in the THINK BOX. When you cross the DECISION LINE to hit the shot, there must be total commitment to the shot. If you get over the ball and are not comfortable with the decision you have made, back off, retreat to the THINK BOX, and come up with a plan in which you have trust. If you are going to be slow in any part of the game, it must be in the THINK BOX and not in the PLAY BOX. The DECISION LINE is the doorway from one room to another.
When you cross the line into the PLAY BOX, leave doubt behind, make your grip, aim the clubface, align the body, connect to the target, and hit your shot. The longer you wait to hit the shot the more opportunity there is for doubt–and tension–to creep into your mind and body. And remember what we said about tension being the most effective saboteur of the golf swing. Decide, commit, swing. It’s as simple as that.