Saturday Morning Tip: Lessons from Jack
With Tiger's quest for winning more majors looking less certain these days, let's turn to the man who has won 20 of them (I'm in the camp that counts his two U.S. Amateurs). Jack Nicklaus always refers to his fundamentals when talking about instruction. So here are three basic tips that should get you on the right track this weekend--one putting, one full swing, one strategy--with some additional comments from Jack's teacher, Jim Flick. You can follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.
*Feel the weight of the putterhead
Putting is largely individual. But I think (1) your head should remain steady and (2) your eyes should be directly over the line of the putt, not necessarily over the ball. After that, my central thought is, Feel the energy of the putter going through the ball. Distance is far more important than direction. If your speed is just right, you can use the full 4-1/4 inches of the cup. Nearly half the ball can miss the hole, and you can still make the putt. *Editor's note: Jack's teacher, Jim Flick, points out that to feel the energy of the putter, you need a light and constant grip pressure. This is especially important on really fast greens, and on tricky short putts under pressure.
*__Ball position for driver, 5-iron, wedge
__I try to play every shot with the ball opposite a point just inside my left heel. That is a pure fundamental for me. The width of my stance and the distance from the ball to my stance line is
dictated by the length of the club. *Comment from Flick: Jack's hands are in exactly the same place in relation to his left leg, no matter the club. He is meticulous with this principle, and he often asks me to check it for him. If you're trying to hit a fade, the ball can be slightly forward of standard. If you're trying to draw the ball, play it a little farther back.*
__Make clear decisions
__When you're strategizing about how to play a certain hole, negativity can be a good thing. You first have to see the trouble, and then think positively about playing away from it. If you pretend to not be aware of what is out there, you're naive. If there's water on the left side of a hole, for example, I set myself to aim at a point right of the water. If I hit a straight shot, I'm OK. If I hit my preferred fade, I'm ideal. If I overcook it and slice into the rough or bunkers on the right, it's still better than being in the water--no penalty stroke. *Flick's comment: Whether you draw or fade, picture the ball flight, and let your body react to that image. For most people, visualizing and feeling the flight of the ball is better than a mechanical thought on the course. *