Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

Learn from two winners: Nick and Nick

Yesterday's winners of the PGA Tour event and the Champions Tour event not only can play superb golf at the highest level, but they also can produce great articles for Golf Digest. Nick Watney, with his teacher Butch Harmon, showed us three keys for power (February 2010), and Nick Price, a Golf Digest Playing Editor since 1993, gave us 10 Rules for Being a Great Driver (February 2009).

Let's first look at the article that featured Watney, who won the Cadillac Championship on the famed Doral Blue Monster by two strokes, after crushing a tee shot on the intimidating final hole, which set up an 8-iron approach and a 12-foot birdie putt, which he drained. In the Golf Digest article, Nick's teacher, Butch Harmon, isolated three keys to bomb it off the tee: (1) Create more width, (2) Shift your weight on the backswing and (3) Get to your left side on the through swing. To do this, Butch recommends three drills:

(1) Swing outside the stakes. Put two stakes in the ground on either side of your address position, just inside the target line, on the angle of your clubshaft at address, and then make swings where the club stays in front of the shafts.

(2) Keep your knee flexed. Keeping the right knee flexed on the backswing puts you in a 

tighter body coil at the top, so you can fire into the ball with more speed.

(3) Practice downhill. The best way to ingrain the proper weight shift is to hit shots off a downhill like. To catch it flush, you have to make a smooth shift.

Now let's turn to the article by the other Nick, who won his fourth Champions Tour event, the Toshiba Classic, after firing a second-round 60 on the tight, par-71 Newport Beach Country Club course. In the 10 Rules article, Price told Senior Writer Guy Yocom that great driving is not only about flying the ball past your buddies; it's also about strategy and accuracy, something Nick is well known for. Here are three tips from the three-time major champion:

(1) Distance first, accuracy later. If you are a beginner or are starting a kid in golf, make it a key to hit the driver as far as possible. Swing it longer and more free-wheeling than the irons. You can address control issues later.

(2) Tee the ball farther forward. In my search for more yards, I found two things that worked. First, I increased my backswing turn. Second, I began playing the ball farther forward, directly below my left pectoral muscle. With drivers going from 43 to 45 inches, they're built to be played with the ball forward.

(3) Be a no-risk gambler. We're all tempted to try to carry that distant bunker, boom one over the corner of a dogleg or make a par 5 reachable by flying water off the tee. If you feel you have to swing even a little harder, lay up or aim away from the trouble.

Great advice from two fine players. I hope these tips help your game. And please follow me on Twitter @ RogerSchiffman.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*