Feel Your Finish First

By Tom Watson Photos by Dom Furore
November 19, 2008

Pose For A Picture: Getting up on your right toe is a good sign you're in a sound finish position.

You don't hit the ball with your finish, but you can improve your contact by paying more attention to it. Make a memory imprint of how a good finish feels. It will help your weight shift and balance, and you'll hit more solid shots.

In a correct finish, your belly button faces the target and your weight has shifted onto your left foot. Your right heel is off the ground, with your weight balanced on your right toe (right). Ideally I can lift my right foot from this position and not fall over.

I capture this feeling on the practice tee and take it to the course. Try this drill: Swing into a sound finish, and hold it for a few seconds, as if you're posing for a picture. Do this three times, and then hit a ball and see if you can reproduce that finish.

If you lose your balance, you're probably swinging too fast. Slow down until you can hold your finish—especially on uneven lies.

Rehearse your finish position on your practice swing. Then play the shot thinking about holding your finish until the ball lands.


Your first clue about how a putt will behave can come as you walk up to the green after an approach shot. Notice the basic slope of the green: It's easier to determine from 40 yards away than up close. The general slope can be your first—and most important—impression of the speed and break of a putt. It's another good reason to walk rather than ride in a golf cart.

Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Click here for more tips from Watson.