Tips From The Tour

What you need from the game’s best players

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Amateurs, on the other hand, pick general targets (an entire tree, a bunker or a wide swath) and hope that their ball will end up in the general vicinity. This lack of detailed focus impacts where their shots end up. The more focused you are on a specific target, the better chance you have of hitting the ball in that direction.

3. Here, Crane is picking an intermediate target between his ball and the target, so he's properly aligned. From this position, he visualizes his shot, whether it'll be a slight fade or a draw. In fact, he does it so much that he "sees" its path in the air. He remains focused on what he wants and doesn't veer from his objective, which is, of course, his target.
Amateurs typically don't have a set routine. They don't remain target-focused and they don't approach the ball from the same way time after time. Often their alignment is questionable as they approach the ball from many different angles and address it with contrasting body lines (for example, their shoulders may aim left while their feet aim right). Also many focus on what they don't want to do rather than on what they want to do. That is, they picture water hazards when they should picture fairways and greens. Since your brain can't differentiate between do and don't (i.e., the thought "Don't hit it in the water" conjures up images of water), having a negative image in your head often leads to negative results.

Rick's Tips

Verbalize The Shot Before You Hit It
Yes, by verbalizing, I mean actually saying out loud what you want your shot to do. For example, "I will use a driver and start the ball off at the bunker on the right and draw it slightly 10 yards so it lands on the right-hand side of the fairway and kicks toward the center." Doing this clarifies what you want—what club to hit, what target to choose and what shot shape you desire. Don't just mumble your objective, say it with confidence so you believe it and create a visual picture of the shot you want to hit.


Stay Anchored

Release The Putterhead
Rock Your Putts
Here are two photos of David Duval swinging a belly putter on the green at TPC Summerlin. Over the past year, belly putters have become a trendy fixture on Tour, so it's worth taking a look at why pros have gravitated to them.

Belly putters make it easier to swing the club so you don't "hit" at the ball. They limit the chance that you'll break your wrists at impact—and breaking your wrists leads to a "flipping" motion and inconsistent strikes. In these photos, note how his shoulders have rocked back and forth and how his head and body have stayed centered throughout the motion.

Amateurs often struggle with the exact opposite of what Duval is doing here. They "hit" putts because they change their tempo throughout the swing. Instead of making a "tick-tock" motion like that of a metronome, their rhythm varies on the backswing and followthrough. They also tend to use their hands through the impact area, which causes the clubface to turn and the ball to veer offline.

Ian Poulter says...

How Amateurs Should Warm Up Before A Round
"Many amateurs don't warm up their bodies. They go for the driver, hit a few, then go to the irons, and off they go. If there was a way to shorten the practice routine—even if it was just a 15-minute window—I would still go through the bag, even if it were one shot with every club or two shots. Just to get the feeling that they've hit with every club in the bag."


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