Sweet Spot: Ernie Els

To say that Ernie Els is one of the greatest golfers of our generation is about as gutsy as laying up from 150 yards. Already a three-time major winner (’94 and ’97 U.S. Opens, ’02 British Open), Els has notched 42 professional victories worldwide (12 on the PGA Tour) in just over a decade. More impressive, Els has 11 second-place finishes to his credit, including four runner-up calls in the majors. Often dubbed The Big Easy, Els is certainly big (6’3, 220 pounds) and his swing is ridiculously effortless. It’s a study of contrasts, as he generates power not by his obvious size, but by employing the proper sequence of downswing moves. Here’s how he does it.

Correct Calls

Distance control starts with selecting the right club

You’re in the middle of the fairway, 150 yards from the flagstick. Perfect 7-iron, you say to yourself, after which you promptly sail the ball over the pin–and over the green. What happened? Likely, you only gave yourself a fraction of the data you needed to select the right club for the shot at hand.

The Chicken Swing

Most teachers will instruct you to fold your left arm into your left side during your followthrough so your hands and arms can release the clubhead down the target line. That’s certainly good advice, but at times, especially in pressure-packed situations where you absolutely have to hit the ball onto the green with an iron or drive it into the center of the fairway off the tee, not folding your left arm into your side can pay huge dividends.

Drop 5 Strokes

Add to your arsenal of short-game shots and hit to tap-in range every time

Instead of taking advantage of clear scoring opportunities from less than full-wedge distances, most recreational golfers unnecessarily struggle, often needing additional strokes to get the ball into the hole following a poor approach. Not only does this situation work to balloon your scores, it robs you of the momentum you might have gained had you made par or birdie._Ê Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Score From Anywhere

Shotmaking tips from the seaside links of Scotland to help you save strokes wherever you play

Regardless of how good your golf swing is or how crisply you strike the ball,_Ê you won’t post good scores if you don’t know how to think your way around a golf course. Obviously, solid technique helps, as does driving the ball long and straight. But throughout the course of a round, there are a variety of situations in which fundamentally solid golf skills simply won’t get the job done. Instead, you must be able to rely on good decision-making to put yourself in position to shoot the lowest score possible without risking double and triple bogeys.

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