August 6, 2007

Activate your legs

Make two adjustments at address, and you'll hit it flush

In the setup: kick in your right knee to create torque, and flare your left foot for a quick turn through.

In the setup: kick in your right knee to create torque, and flare your left foot for a quick turn through.

I see amateurs make two mistakes at address that keep them from hitting the ball solidly. They set their left foot straight, or perpendicular to the target line, and they stand with straight knees.

I like the left foot toed out about 30 degrees so I can turn my hips through the ball quickly. I want the right knee flexed and kicked in slightly toward the ball -- this helps me keep my posture during the swing. Some top players push the right knee a bit toward the target as a forward press, which is another way to do it. Gary Player has been a notable example for years.

If the left foot is turned out, and the right knee stays kicked in and flexed, you'll be able to create torque with your shoulder turn going back. Then you can shift your weight to your left foot coming down. The club will accelerate freely through impact.

THOUGHTS FROM TOM

Putting feel can be learned. Hit uphill putts on the practice green, then try the same length putts coming back downhill, making the same stroke and seeing how far past the hole the balls go. Do it from different distances, then reverse the sequence, putting downhill first. Focus on making solid strokes and repeating them from each position. See if you don’t improve at judging speed and distance.

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