How To Make More Birdies

The fine art of scoring: beating fear, tension and not yourself

June 2009
Camilo Villegas: How To Make More Birdies

I try to do everything during a round with a purpose and do it as best I can. I don't let up, not even for one shot. That's who I am. I think this philosophy has helped me improve my scoring every year I've been on tour. From a mechanics standpoint, my coach at the University of Florida, Buddy Alexander, always told me, "When you start playing professional golf and move up the ranks, you're going to get shorter." What he meant was that when scoring becomes such a big priority, you tend to swing more for control than for distance. I think working on making solid impact and swinging within yourself are crucial. Here are some of the thoughts I bring with me every time I play.

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Tap into your memory bank

When I'm getting ready to putt, I always try to remember the best putts I've ever made. Or I imagine it's match play, and I've got this birdie putt to beat one of my teammates from college who I hated losing to. I get so focused, and it helps me make a nice, aggressive stroke.

If you're nervous over putts, don't fight it. Embrace it. I've had a lot of three-footers where I was shaking. But you've got to realize, it's OK to be nervous. Make it exciting, and look forward to those situations. And if you miss? Who cares what other people think.

On spinning the ball

When I want to generate more spin into a green, I take a club less than I normally would and swing harder; stretch it up a bit.


Get specific with your targets

Aiming is such an important part of making birdies. Before I hit any drive, iron shot or even putt, I want an extremely precise target. In the fairway, I don't say to myself, I'm going to go over that bunker. That bunker might be 30 yards wide. I say, I'm going over the left edge of that bunker. It really helps to narrow your focus if you pick as specific a target as possible.

On attitude

Making birdies is a lot about attitude. I wake up every morning saying to myself that I'm going to give it my best shot. You should approach every round like that. If you do, you're going to be a champion, at least for yourself.
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