June 13, 2007

My 80 percent rule

It will turn your fairway woods into scoring clubs

Even though hybrids are more popular than ever (and easy to hit), you still have to be able to handle your fairway woods to have a complete long game. If you can hit your 3- and 5-woods with confidence from the fairway, par 5s become birdie opportunities and 420-yard par 4s are a lot less scary.

When you're hitting a fairway wood, you've got a lot of real estate to cover to get to your target. Your first instinct is probably to give it a little more power, because you're worried about coming up short. But if you try to hit it hard, you'll tend to speed up your transition at the top and get out of sync. Lunging at the ball from the top leads to a lot of pulls and slices. You'll get better results—and often more distance—if you swing at 80 percent effort.

I almost never hit a shot all out, and I make a conscious effort to swing my long clubs just as I do my wedges. Keep this in mind when hitting your fairway woods.

ERNIEISMS

CHANGING IT UP

I rarely change equipment during the season, but before the Byron Nelson I went back to an old Ping putter I had in my garage. It was a confidence boost, and I led the field in fewest putts for the week.

TOUGH CHOICES

The championship series the PGA Tour is starting next year is going to put pressure on players who want to support both the PGA and European tours. I'll have to miss events I like because they don't fit my new schedule.