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Instruction

Mid-week Lesson: Tom Watson says to hit it hard downwind

Editor's note: Starting today, and every Wednesday, I'll be writing about something instructional to help your golf game. We might look at a simple tip, or we might delve into a longer discussion about a crucial topic in the world of golf instruction. Hope you find it useful, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest


Today on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, the discussion turned to who's the best wind player at the British Open this week. Rich Lerner mentioned that the all-time best wind player might be Tom Watson, who won the Open Championship five times (and almost a sixth at Turnberry two years ago). Here's a lesson from Watson that ran in the December 2005 issue of Golf Digest, the same year he won the Senior British Open at Royal Aberdeen in severe winds. What Tom says is counterintuitive, but it could really help your game.--Roger Schiffman

More spin, higher trajectory
are crucial downwind
BY TOM WATSON
Golf Digest Playing Editor,
with Nick Seitz

Downwind approach shots demand more adjustment than many players make. You almost always have to allow for more wind than you think. The ball will go farther and lower and will run more after it hits the ground. Sometimes you need to land the ball short of the green if it's open in front.

The 12th hole at Royal Aberdeen in this year's (2005) Senior British Open was an example of the ball running downwind. I had about 200 yards to the front edge of the green. The first day I
hit a 6-iron, and the ball went about 240. The next two days I hit a 7-iron down the same wind, and it was the right club. It landed 30 yards short of the green and rolled probably another 50 yards.

The key to hitting downwind is to swing full speed to spin the ball more and fly it higher. It's hard to do because the breeze flattens the trajectory, even though the ball will travel farther with the added roll. And downwind shots are even tougher today because the new balls spin less.

So throttle up your swing speed--staying in control--to create more spin. Swing easier into the wind, swing harder with the wind. Game of opposites? Yes. And remember the roll. Think of carrying the ball to the front of the green or short of the green if it's open in front.

Bonus tip from Tom: Get wide for better balance. Widening your stance a few inches will help your balance in the wind. It also will help playing shots on slopes by restricting your leg motion.
 




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