Think of all the times you’ve hit your ball into the one spot you absolutely didn’t want to go. The tee shot O.B., an approach that comes up a yard short in the water, a chip that slides past the hole and ends up rolling 30 yards off the green. It doesn’t seem like really good players have many of these “bad luck” results. They have a way of seeing where they don’t want to go and focusing where they do. Why is that?
Tiger Woods, in Episode 10 of his instructional series “My Game: Tiger Woods,” discusses the skill of managing shot location, specifically at Augusta National, where he has found so much success: “The key to Augusta is to not miss the ball flag high; miss short or long. Flag high is some of the hardest breaking putts or chips you’ll ever face,” Tiger says. “And it’s not only the approach shot, but how I’m going to hit the tee shot so I give myself an angle to get into a spot where I have an easy chip or putt.”
Planning shots is one thing, but the prerequisite is being able to execute them with confidence. Tiger talks about how he worked on certain ball flights, like hitting a high draw with his driver, in the run-up to his 2019 Masters win. “I wasn’t quite comfortable sending the ball up with the driver right to left,” Tiger says. “So simulating that at home, simulating that at the gym, trying to get my body feeling comfortable that I could do that. It started feeling a lot better.”
The last piece of the puzzle is being able to do it all—the thinking and the playing—under pressure. In Tiger’s case, this usually means with a major championship on the line. He talks about the final nine at the Masters in April, taking the lead on the 15th hole and assessing who had a chance to catch him. “It’s like any other sport: You want to know time and distance, you want to know what’s going on, so you can play the appropriate shots or understand what your options are.”
Tiger has always had an amazing sense of timing and the skills to execute when it mattered. Hear him describe how he plans certain shots and holes and why Augusta is the ultimate test. Click here to sign up for the entire 12-part “My Game: Tiger Woods” series (in the U.S., China and Korea) or click here for the rest of the world.