The Women’s British Open was dramatic and exciting to say the least! Lots of low running shots that raced to the green and some bunker shots that were pure works of art. I can only imagine we’ll see much the same for the upcoming Men’s British Open. Golfing across the pond has its own style of shot making and strategy. They say the American game of golf is a game where the approach shots go up in the air and come down on the green. Across the pond however, the approach shots don’t always fly high in the air and land softly on the green. Shots often start low in the air, bounce a time or two then roll up onto the green. This type of shot making requires some creativity and imagination. When Phil Mickelson arrived a few weeks ago he practiced for the environment. I heard an interview with Phil just the other day and one of the questions they asked was about his preparation for the tournament. They wanted to know what he planned to focus on while preparing for The Open. His answer was very interesting. He spoke of the types of shots he thought he needed to know before the tournament. One of his plans was to go to the 150 yard marker with his 5 iron and hit shots into greens…but not the American way. He was going to hit shots that run up to the greens. He wanted to learn what was going to happen to the ball, how it was going to roll, and where it was going to end up when it finally came to rest. We all know that Phil Mickelson’s 5 iron goes well beyond 150 yards but he chose to use that particular club to create the low running shots he’s going to need for the conditions. It’s likely to be very windy and probably include some rain which means the ball will need to stay low in order to arrive on the green successfully. He’s going to use his creativity and shot making skills to get the ball to the hole.
Now we all know that Phil is Phil. He has a great short game and is one of the best players in the world yet he’s practicing shot making. We could all do a little bit of that when we play and certainly when we practice. One of the things I work on with my students is the idea that you can use different clubs to accomplish the same goal. We want the ball to get to the green and there are many ways we can get it there. We shouldn’t feel like we have only one choice when it’s time to make a shot. It’s a great idea to practice a little shot making when you’re on the range so the next time you’re on the course, you have a few options to choose from. Besides, it’s fun to be creative! Try this shot making exercise the next time you’re hitting balls on the driving range. Pick a target that you can reach with a 7 or 8 iron with your normal full swing. Make some shots into that green until you feel like you’re hitting it well, then switch to a longer club. Your goal is still the same, you want the ball to end up on the green, but now it has to land short of the green and bounce a few times and roll up on the green. When you have the “long club” shot dialed in, switch back to the original full swing club. Now alternate between the two clubs. Hit 3 shots with the full swing and 3 shots with the longer club. Practice this type of shot making on the range and the next time you get out on the course, you can tap in to your creative side and switch it up. It’s amazing how freeing it is to realize that you’re not relegated to only one club choice for each shot you make. I promise you that tapping into your creative side will bring a different level of enjoyment to you the next time you play.