From the Magazine
Collin Morikawa's best tips for improving your game
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Collin Morikawa is known for his go-to fade, but the best players in the world have a full arsenal of shots at their disposal. Morikawa is no different. We asked him to give us his keys for eight different shots, all of which he uses virtually every week: the fairway-finder, the bombed driver, the stock cut, the punchy draw, the standard chip, the flop shot, the lag putt and the shorties.
Having spent a good amount of time with Collin over the past few years, we’ve been struck by the simplicity of his swing thoughts—he and his longtime coach, Rick Sessinghaus, try to minimize variables and keep things as intuitive as possible. Players of any level can learn so much from the way he approaches the game.
ADJUST YOUR START TO DRIVE IT STRAIGHT OR FAR
Get it in the short grass
When it’s crucial to hit the fairway, I go with a little cut shape off the tee. My typical miss is to over-cut the ball. It happens when my arms get disconnected from my body on the backswing. To make sure a cut doesn’t become a slice, I treat my arms and torso as one unit as I start back. Try it. You’ll feel like your backswing is abbreviated, yet fully wound (above left).
Air one out
When I want to reach back for a few extra yards, I tee the ball higher and make a bigger turn, which makes my swing longer (above right). I’ll sometimes put my right hand on my right hip and mimic a backswing to rehearse this longer drive. I want to feel my right leg straightening and my right shoulder moving back and around my body. If I copy that when I swing, I can really turn it loose.
LET YOUR FINISH HELP YOU EXECUTE THE RIGHT SHOT
Try my go-to for reliability
Iron play is all about controlling ball flight. For me, that means playing a mid-trajectory shot that peels off to the right just a bit. I set up a little left of my target and swing to the top with my left wrist bowed to put the clubface in the position I want it to stay in through impact. Then, for consistency, I rely on body rotation in the downswing—not my hands— to control the face, so it’s a hair open to my swing path at impact. Another key: I make sure I finish tall like I am here (above left).
Shape it with your arms
I don’t do it often, but I won’t hesitate to draw the ball when it’s the right play. I address it slightly farther back than normal, roughly centered between my feet. I also adjust my stance so that I’m oriented a little right (closed) in relation to my target. I think about swinging around my body into this lower finish position (above right) with my right arm moving more across my chest than it would for my usual cut.
SHORT-GAME SUCCESS STARTS WITH THE RIGHT PLAY
Simplify your swing to repeat it
For consistency, I keep things pretty straightforward when I chip. If the lie isn’t awful or I’m not trying to get some extra height on the shot, I always use my stock chip. I have my weight on the front foot, play the ball slightly back of center and keep my lower body really quiet through the strike. Notice how straight my left arm is in the backswing (above left). That’s a key to solid contact. I often see amateurs trying to chip with both arms bent, and it hardly ever goes well.
Get aggressive on special occasions
You need some speed to hit a flop or to slide the club through the thick grass. To get it, I widen my stance, move my left foot back with toes toward the target and set my weight 50-50. When I swing, I feel like I’m picking the club up steeper (above right). Then it’s just keeping flex in the knees and staying committed in the through-swing. The shot takes some practice, but it saves strokes.
GOOD SPEED OR LINE? GRIP IT RELATIVE TO THE PUTT’S LENGTH
Add flow to your longer strokes
Putting doesn’t come as naturally to me as the full swing, but I’ve managed to roll it great in each of my tournament wins. I use a conventional grip (above left) for longer putts. It helps put some flow into the stroke and get the ball to the hole. Interestingly, I don’t have a set distance where it’s time to switch to my other grip (above right). It’s a feel thing.
Steady the face to hole more
I first tried this grip last February after a conversation with Mark O’Meara. My right hand was too active on short putts, making it hard to control the face. Mark suggested this style, which essentially takes the right hand out of the stroke. I’ve noticed significant improvement in my start lines, which is absolutely crucial if you want to hole a putt.