Seven things we can all learn from Collin Morikawa

July 21, 2021

If you needed any more proof that you don’t hit it as precisely as Collin Morikawa does, he provided it at the Open Championship, maneuvering his ball on command from tee to green and having one of the best putting weeks of his life. But just because you can’t do exactly what he does doesn’t mean you can’t borrow a few of his tricks.

With analysis from Golf Digest top teacher Terry Rowles, we’ll deconstruct six shots he hit from this PGA Tour season and give you one thing to take to your next round.

Be the smartest player in your group.

“One of the coolest things about Morikawa’s game is that he so often picks the right shot—even as a relatively young player,” says Rowles, who is based at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. “He isn’t out there just bashing it around. That’s something you can copy immediately, with no superhuman skill required.

Let your takeaway help your stability.

“If you struggle hitting your irons solid, it could well be because you’re rolling the club to the inside on the takeaway and moving off the ball in the backswing,” says Rowles.

“If you can take the club back to the outside of the hands, like Morikawa is here, that tends to contribute to staying centered. Another thing I like about this shot is that he’s making a three-quarter length shot to reduce distance but is still accelerating. It’s hit with authority.”

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Don’t fall into this common trap when hitting less than driver.

You might think you’ve done all the decision-making you need to by benching your driver. That’s definitely not the case, says Rowles.

“When people take less club off the tee just to get it in play, they don't always focus as much as they would if they hit the same club into, say, a par 3,” says Rowles. “That tends to produce lazy swings.

“Pick a clear target and make a committed swing. I like what [sport psychologist] Bob Rotella calls it—an aggressive swing to a conservative target. And instead of trying to launch it in the air, use more of an iron swing. Level impact or even a little downward is OK.”

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Have a tough tee shot? You can’t afford to swing tentatively.

“Everybody's swing has a set of shots it produces. Morikawa’s likes to make fades, so when he has a shot he has to fit in a tight spot, he leans on his favorite shot choice,” says Rowles. “Do you slice? So what? Make sure you aim to account for that and swing away. If you overcook your predominant curve, you're still in play.”

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A game plan for the thick, thick rough.

“Catching too much grass before you get to the ball kills the speed you need to hit this shot,” says Rowles. “Here, you can see he’s swinging on a steep angle and to the left, and the club gets to the bottom of the grass without too much grass interfering. He’s overcoming the rough with steepness and speed.”

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An easy way to deal with chipping into the grain

“You can clearly see that he has to deal with a lot of grain on this shot, so he makes a point to cut across the ball with a swing to the left,” says Morikawa. “He sets up aimed to the left and is very open. By cutting across the ball that way, he hits the ball first and not the ground, so the club doesn’t stick in the grain before impact. He’s delivering lots of loft and bounce.”

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Don’t overcomplicate the flop shot.

“I love this shot because he’s actually using the hill to help him get the ball very high without much wrist action at all,” says Rowles. “It’s a Jason Day style pitch, with a flat, skidding impact. When players try to hit shots like this, the tendency is to let the head wander back in the backswing. It has to stay right on top of the ball throughout the swing, and you let the club do the work.”

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