Hit More Greens From Way Downtown
When I became No. 1 in the world in 2011, it was a surprise to me. I wasn't playing like the best golfer on the planet. I didn't feel like the best. So I needed to change a few things—even though it meant falling to 50th in the World Golf Ranking. I wanted to become more of a complete player, and that's what I've worked on the past three years. Now I'm able to hit every shot I want to hit. My advice for you is along the same lines: Work on the shots that can really help you.
From what I see, many amateurs should improve their fairway woods. I think it's one of the biggest problem areas. Why? You don't let the club do its job. These clubs are designed to hit the ball high and far and find greens from long range, but only if you use them correctly. I think you'll have more success hitting greens with fairway woods if you play a fade. That's my stock ball flight. It's just an easier shot to control.
To get the ball to fly high and curve a little left to right, I set up slightly left of the target. I also play the ball farther forward in my stance—about the same position you would for a driver. The more forward the ball is, the higher I can hit it, which is important if you want to hold a green from a long way out.
Notice I didn't say anything about changing my grip or my swing to produce this shot. The adjustments I make at address create the fade.
Once you have a good setup, focus on the pace and rhythm of your swing. In general, the longer the club, the longer the swing should take. I really take my time with the backswing and try to load up. I know many of you have an urge to race the club back down. Try to resist that.
My final piece of advice is, don't overswing. In the past, my swing has gotten long and my accuracy suffered. So I shortened it. This can help you hit the ball more solidly, too, because you'll have better control if you keep the motion compact. Give these things a try, and see if you don't raise your game.
Martin Kaymer of Mettmann, Germany, has won 10 professional tournaments worldwide, including the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis. He was 12th on the PGA Tour in 2013 in proximity to the hole from outside 200 yards and first from 250 to 275 yards.