Golf InstructionSeptember 30, 2013

Forget The Flag

Own every par 3
  1. Forget the flag. I'm looking at the middle of the green. It's safer.
  1. Forget the flag. I'm looking at the middle of the green. It's safer.

In 2011 on the PGA Tour, I ranked No. 1 in par-3 performance. I finished the year 21 under on those holes and made birdie nearly 20 percent of the time. How did I do it? In 2008, my par-3 stats were bad so my coach, Colin Swatton, and I came up with a simple strategy that many golfers find difficult to execute: Play to the middle of the green, no matter the flag's location. It's better to have a long putt than a chip, right? That was the foundation for an effective method of playing par 3s.

Practice Swing

  1. I commit to my practice swing, and also my target. Then it's time to hit.__

Now when I step onto a par-3 tee, my caddie and I make sure we have the right yardage to where I want the ball to land (1). We factor in elevation changes, wind direction, even temperature (balls fly farther in the heat). Once we've determined the adjusted yardage, I select the shot I need to hit and get a feel for it by making a series of practice swings, paying attention to how my arms and body are moving together. I simulate exactly what I want to feel when I hit the shot (2). For example, if I'm trying to drive it in low and let it run on the green, I make my practice swings with a little more weight on my leading leg, maybe move the ball back in my stance and make a slightly more abbreviated follow-through.

Once I have the correct feel with my body and arms, I take a long look from the ball through the target, to feel and see the intended shot. When I've got it, I step in, address the ball and stay committed to re-creating that shot (3).

JASON DAY, the 2010 HP Byron Nelson champion, was runner-up at the 2011 Masters and U.S. Open.