June 18, 2007

Pressure chipping

How to hit it tight down the stretch

KEEP IT LIGHT: Under pressure, I concentrate on keeping my wrists and forearms loose and my grip very light for consistent touch shots.

KEEP IT LIGHT: Under pressure, I concentrate on keeping my wrists and forearms loose and my grip very light for consistent touch shots.

Brushing up on your short game at the practice area is fine and good, but taking it with you to the golf course—when your score is really on the line—is another story.

During a tournament, I'm not thinking about mechanics at all. I'm in scoring mode. But when the pressure builds on Sunday afternoon, nerves can certainly disrupt what you're trying to do, especially around the green. When you find yourself in that position late in a big match, don't get bogged down with swing thoughts. Grip pressure—not mechanical flaws—is the biggest factor when you're nervous. You unconsciously grip it tighter, which keeps you from making a smooth swing with a natural release. Keep your grip pressure light, and you'll be surprised how much your mechanics stabilize.

I focus on light grip pressure, and then go with the shot I like to hit. For example, I've never been a good bump-and-run player, so under pressure I usually choose a lofted shot, even when I've got some green in front of me to work with.

ERNIEISMS

Short-game clubs

Some players like to change clubs around the green to hit high or low shots. I play all of my short-game shots with my 54-degree sand wedge and change my ball position to hit it higher or lower. I think it's easier to learn one club than four.