Why to Practice Specific Shots
Everyone’s watched this video of Tiger hitting the now named duck slice from a fairway bunker at the end of the 3rd round of the WGC Mexico.
Tiger went ahead and made some comments about his decision making in a video, where he said knew that his initial 8 iron was too much club which made him switch to a 9 iron, but didn’t say if he knew that specifically because he’d hit exact shots like that before.
In the realm of specific shot practice, here’s a story about a time when that absolutely helped me.
At Pinehurst for the US Four Ball, we were on one of the practice greens (which we were told used to be the 18th at the #4 that they changed into a practice green during the redesign because the green was too difficult so players finishing #4 had trouble keeping it on the green which goes to show that public play courses can be too difficult). They had the giant bunkers and one of the shots we decided to practice were long bunker shots where the ball was on a big upslope near the front of the bunker.
The shot ended up being one where you open the club face to the point where you’re able to swing as hard as you can, have the ball go way into the air and comes down next to the hole with not much spin or roll. The thing to practice was knowing how open to have the club face and get a sense of the density of the sand. We hit probably 10-15 of those shots from different places, all on the upslopes to back pins, and felt pretty good about them.
Fast forward to couple days later where on the 16th hole at #2, after a bad drive where I had to hit my second shot to advance it to the green, I ended up on an upslope of a giant bunker short right of the green when the pin was back left. When my friend and I were walking up I could see right away it was the kind of shot I’d been practicing, and straight up told him “watch this” before I hit the shot, which ended up being a giant arched shot that landed a foot from the hole and stayed a foot from the hole. Perfect example of the benefit of practicing a specific shot.
Also, Tiger is a Jedi Master.
GOTM Practice Series #7 — Worst Ball Putting
This is the seventh entry in the GOTM Practice Series. The goal of all the entries in this series is to not only to describe practice drills, but also make sure you know how to practice with the right mental attitude, something just as important as the physical act.
It’s been a while since the last post in the practice series so figured I should add more in the coming week! People always talk about how you need to have the correct mentality when practicing, and this drill is a great way to force that mindset.
Use two balls on each putt, and after hitting both from the same location, choose the hardest putt you left yourself with, and then hit both next putts from that location until you make both putts. Basically, imagine it’s a worst ball scramble on a putting green.
Play a 9 hole “course” where you pick an new type of putt for each “hole”, and keep score with how many over par you are. After, play 9 holes again and focus on beating your score from the first 9 holes.
What to Focus On
The big key here, besides focusing on each putt (which is something I’ll talk about in a different practice post), is to watch your first putt, adjust the break that you read for your second putt. Helps you figure out a read correctly, and also makes you focus on the second putt because there’s no excuse for that putt to be further than the hole than your first. And as I mentioned above, this really helps make you focus on putting as if you were competing on a course.