Golf Magazine

Top Golf Instructor Gives Masters Tips from Inside-the-Ropes

By Golfforbeginners
Top Golf Instructor Gives Masters Tips from Inside-the-Ropes How do you coach your players to deal with the nerves on the opening shot?

I will tell you a funny story. Back in the day, I remember Zach Johnson playing in (The Memorial Tournament) at Muirfield Village and tee times came out and he said he called his wife and he said, "Guess who we're playing with?" and she said "Tiger Woods?" He says, "No, bigger than that." After this long silence, she suddenly realizes it's Jack Nicklaus. Zach was paired with Jack Nicklaus at his own tournament, and they had like a 12 o'clock tee time with 10,000 people around the first tee. So anyway, I called Zach on Thursday night and asked, "How was that opening tee shot?" He said he was so nervous he couldn't swallow a BB. He said, "Well, I knew I couldn't pass. I had to play, so I visualized great shots I've had in the past, and I ran my routine." I striped it right down the middle. Everybody gets nervous but the players, you know, stick to the routine and they're OK. They've hit so many great shots under pressure and so forth and they're off to a great start."

What is the key to hitting irons consistently?

Everything comes down to the proper delivery of the club into the ball. You could say anybody who's very consistent in golf is delivering the club the same way into the ball. Being able to hit down on your shots and compress the ball - which helps to stabilize the clubface - and controlling that clubface is another key component to hitting good iron shots. I try to make sure people come in on the correct plane because that helps them produce more lag. Lag helps to get your hands more forward. That, in turn, helps you get down on the ball, so it's kind of a domino effect. I definitely want to hit down on the ball and control the clubface.

What one drill would you do to get a consistent downswing?

I look at things like one domino falling against the other and they run down the list. So many times, I see people with so much tension in their shoulders and their forearms and they start their downswing more with their upper body, and they start rotating a little early and that's where they can shift the plane and come in and have all kinds of different release habits. If that's the case, I have the drills I get people to do. We work on trying to accelerate and be more relaxed in their arms and get their hands moving toward the golf ball. We do a lot of things when we do a fold-up drill with an impact bag up against the wall that helps get people to do that. We have a handful of drills that we do to work on that particular aspect of the swing because it is such a big deal.

Where do you prefer to see a golfer's weight in the putting stroke?

I like players that have more weight on their left side (for right-hand golfers). Primarily, it's so there isn't any transfer of weight during the stroke. Favoring the left side and keeping the weight, consistent, you can minimize any lower body motion and you can have a little bit more of a pure stroke with your shoulders, as opposed to having any kind of movement in the lower body.

Although Tiger Woods was noticeably invisible from this year's Masters, this was, as always, a terrific tournament as only Augusta National can offer. Congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama for his brilliant performance!

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