Be honest: When you miss a green, do you grab your favorite wedge without even looking at the shot you’re about to hit? Tsk-tsk. That’s a major difference between pros and average golfers, and one that's easily fixable. The pros examine the lie, the green, the slope—a variety of factors—before they plan to hit a shot. Amateurs grab and go, and often get stuck holding the wrong club.
“Around the green, I have an open-mindedness to play different shots,” Tiger Woods says in Episode 4 of his new 12-part video series “My Game: Tiger Woods,” from Golf Digest and GOLFTV. “Do I grip down or not grip down? Do I weaken my grip or strengthen my grip, and which hand do I do it with? Do I lean the shaft, not lean the shaft? Do I have the hands up or down, do I have the hands forward or back? I know it’s a lot, but that open-mindedness has allowed me to hit or hole shots at key moments.”
Tiger says the secret is self-discovery. Developing a full-fledged short game is a good idea for any golfer, but how you do it is up to you. “Some guys like to think of the body, like chest open [through impact]. I’m terrible at it,” he says. “I’m good at either throwing my hands at the ball, throwing them behind, releasing early, releasing late, dragging them, flipping them. My hands are what I contact the club with, so I see shots with my hands.”
Ultimately, it’s about putting in the time to find out what’s right for you through trial and error. “I’ll spend hours hitting different shots and seeing what works and what doesn’t,” says Tiger. “I enjoy rolling it out, hitting it high, hitting it low, making it do different things. Going back to my open-mindedness—it has allowed me to pull some shots off that, quite frankly, most people didn’t see. But I did.”
To see more on Tiger’s phenomenal short game, check out Episode 4. Enjoy the entire “My Game: Tiger Woods” series by clicking here for Golf Digest Schools (in the U.S., China and Korea) or here (for everywhere else).