July 8, 2007

Wind = break

For shots from any distance

Right to left: I'm factoring a stiff breeze into this pitch shot, playing it right of the flag so the wind will blow it on target.

Right to left: I'm factoring a stiff breeze into this pitch shot, playing it right of the flag so the wind will blow it on target.

The British Open is back at Carnoustie, where I won my first major, in windy conditions, in 1975. It reminded me that when dealing with a crosswind, you should think of the break on a green. The wind will act as "slope" and make the ball curve, just like slope on the putting surface does.

Back in '75, on Carnoustie's tricky 166-yard 13th, I was two under par for the five days, including a playoff with Jack Newton. Deep bunkers crowd the shallow green, and the wind usually buffets shots.

When the wind was moving right to left, I aimed off the right edge of the green. I also slightly sliced the ball into the wind, to land it on the far right side of the green, where it would bounce and roll left with the crosswind.

If you try to maneuver the ball into a crosswind this way, be aware that a left-to-right shot won't go as far or slice as much. Try to practice in a crosswind to determine how much the ball goes sideways in flight and what it does after it lands.

Golf Digest Playing Editor Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.