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Question on Getting Started:

I swear, whenever I try to play "smart" and hit a shot to avoid trouble, I end up hitting the ball directly into the trouble. Is this a mental thing?

It very well could be. The trouble may be becoming the center of your focus. One time when I was playing a practice round I became very annoyed at my caddy. He would get on every tee box and start pointing out the bunkers, water and trouble. I looked at him and said "wow, I don't even see those things". I was always so focused on my target and landing spot that I never actually saw trouble. By him pointing out the trouble, it started to become my focal point. I think it is different partly between male and female players. Females don't hit the ball as long and tend to hit it straighter so the trouble on the sides doesn't bother them as much. I also think it just has to do with the individual and what their eyes see. Often times players who are trying to avoid trouble become tentative with their swings. This causes deceleration and the result is usually a big miss. I would recommend keying all your energy on your landing spot and focus on making a good swing that stays aggressive, but in rhythm.

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