Tips From The Tour
When I need to stop the bleeding, I sometimes think about a visual tip my dad gave me. My father, Don, has been my only teacher, and he used to tell me to pretend there's a catcher's mitt right behind me on my target line. My goal is to start my swing so the clubhead hits the mitt. From there, I just lift the club to complete my backswing (left).
It's a great tip for amateurs who let the club get too far to the inside when they make a big backswing -- which causes them to come over the top. Or those who are scared to turn too far away from the ball. This move limits the turn and will give them the confidence to hit the next fairway and erase that mistake on the previous hole. It's so important to get off the tee on that next hole in good shape.
When I practiced from the sand during the 2007-'08 off-season, I hit shots from 10 yards out exclusively. After the 2007 season, my short-game instructor, Dave Pelz, did some research and discovered that the average distance of a sand shot on tour was 10 yards. So that's what I practiced (left). Thirty feet, nothing else, though I did create different lies for variation.
When the 2008 season began, I found that if a shot was a bit shorter or longer than the 30-foot norm, I needed to make only a small adjustment to compensate. The practice strategy really paid off. At one point, I hit 28 consecutive sand shots within three feet of the hole.