Golf Digest editors picks

How To Save Shots

5 easy ways to lower your scores from tee to green

December 2009

Confidence is a fragile thing. I've played really well the past few years and received the Comeback Player of the Year award twice on the PGA Tour (in 2006 and '07). But when I didn't win when I had the chance earlier this year at the Bob Hope and then in L.A., I was doubting whether I still had the ability to do it. Then I won Colonial, then John Deere and the Deutsche Bank, and all of a sudden I'm No. 3 in the world. Funny, isn't it?

It's a nice honor to be ranked No. 3 behind Tiger and Phil, but that's all it is, a nice honor. I mean, good play takes care of a lot of things, so that's what I'm focused on. That's also my advice to you. If you focus on your own game and try to improve in all areas from tee to green, your scores will come down, and things like winning your flight of the club championship should soon follow. Here are some easy ways to improve five critical facets of your game.

1. Driving

Turn your left side behind the ball for a better transition

It's really hard to shave strokes from the rough. I've found that having good rhythm is key to hitting more fairways.

I drove the ball very well this year by focusing on a slow takeaway and completing my backswing before starting my downswing. How do you know when your backswing is complete? Keep turning until your entire left side is behind the ball. If you haven't been turning your body much when you take the club back, this might seem like a daunting task. But it's crucial to setting up a good transition from backswing to downswing. Remember to turn slowly. You can practice this move in front of a mirror.

2. Iron play

Control your distance by learning the knockdown shot

I tend to hit my iron shots high, and that can get me in trouble on windy days. On those days, I'll take more club and hit knockdown shots. Learn this technique not only to control your ball flight and hit more greens, but because it's a great way to hit the ball more solidly with your hands leading the clubhead through impact. To hit the knockdown, take one more club than normal, and play the ball slightly back of center in your stance. Then make a three-quarter backswing, but be sure to allow your forearms to turn over through impact. It's not a punch shot. The clubface should rotate from open to closed.

3. Pitching

Keep your wrists quiet to improve your consistency

To keep my approach to pitching as simple as possible, I make the same swing every time with very little wrist hinge. Many pros will hinge their wrists and vary the length of their swings to alter the distance and height the ball travels, but I prefer my method for consistency. The simplicity of my method makes it great for amateurs, particularly if you don't have a lot of time to practice. If you need to alter the height or the distance of the shot, change to a different-lofted club or play the ball up or back in your stance. But try to repeat the same swing with minimal wrist hinge to ensure consistent results.

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