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What Tiger thinks about over the ball

September 04, 2019

Consider all the times you’ve been ready to hit a shot and something changes, like a sudden gust of wind. What do you do? All too often you probably just hit—and hope. Hope that you have the right club, or that the wind won’t put you in that front bunker. Great players develop a sense for what matters, when they need to make a last-second adjustment—and what that adjustment should be.

In his new 12-part video series “My Game: Tiger Woods” from GOLFTV and Golf Digest, Tiger discusses how he handles changing variables: “Controlling trajectory and controlling shots, a lot of that is my hands. . . . To me, it’s about making the little adjustments right before impact to sense where the club is, because at the end of the day the only connection we have to the golf club is our hands.”

Tiger’s ability to tweak his technique on the fly is one of the things that makes him Tiger Woods. A simpler method is to back off the shot, check the conditions and re-think your club or swing. Maybe you should change your aim or focus on a different swing thought. Point is, every golfer can address doubt by re-setting and changing the plan. But remember, it’s not only about making an adjustment; it’s also knowing when one is necessary. That comes with learning from experience.

To hear Tiger’s pre-shot thinking—his club selection, his shot choice, his constant monitoring of conditions—is one of the fascinating segments in “Episode 3: My Iron Play.” Here’s Tiger on one particular shot: “It’s 206 right now and about 180ish to the front. Wind’s coming off the left, but it’s bouncing back and forth. As of right now, it’s a 6-iron. Now we just got a puff of wind, more downish, so I realize if I hit a full 6-iron, it’s out of here. Ten seconds ago, it was more like I had to lean on a 6-iron to get it there. So trying to get a feel for that, and understand that I may have to use one of the two shots. I’ve got to make that decision once I get up to the golf ball. I’ve got a feel for both shots, and right now [the wind] is down, so I’m going to take something off of this. It’s still down so I’m going to go with it.”

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Watching this process, you’ll appreciate the complexity of shot-making at the highest level and start to think about your own system for planning shots. For Episode 3 and to access the entire program, click here (in the U.S., China and Korea) or here (all other countries).