Every golfer has felt the stress of trying to find their swing on the range before a big round. The round with your boss, the member-guest, a stroke-play qualifier. It can be daunting, and pounding more balls—the obvious solution—sometimes only makes matters worse. Tiger Woods has made a point of not turning game days into practice days.
“I don’t spend a lot of time searching for it on the range [at an event], searching for it on the putting green or chipping green,” Woods says in the first episode of “My Game: Tiger Woods,” his new 12-part video series with GOLFTV and Golf Digest. “I’ve always felt that I do my best work away from the site, and when I go there, I go there to win.”
Of course, that’s a little easier to say if you’re Tiger Woods, but the general concept also applies to average golfers. Think of all the times you’ve gone to the range or played golf leading up to an important round without much thought or direction. The feeling is, putting in the reps will magically pay off. But all too often, as you close in on the big day, you start thinking you haven’t done enough; you’re not ready. Woods says, “Controlling the anxiousness, the feeling that I need to do more at an event, that’s where a lot of my past experience has helped.”
One way Woods structures his true practice sessions is to hit shots into an imaginary nine-box grid. Picture a giant Tic-Tac-Toe board down your target line. A high draw would start in the top-right window and curve left to the center. A low fade would start in the bottom-left window and curve right. Tiger says he pictures shots this way when he plays, so changing trajectory and curve on every shot is a perfect prep. Even if you don’t have the ball control Woods does, simulating real-round situations provides the confidence to play shots when they matter.
The lesson here from Tiger is, regardless of your level of play or time for practice, preparing your game for a big event should start well in advance and become less technical, less rigorous as you go. This is opposite of how most golfers do it. Getting mentally and physically exhausted in the days or hours before competing is probably not a risk worth taking. “I always felt like it was best to have enough energy,” Woods says. “If I feel like my tank is full of energy, over the course of a four-day marathon, I figure out a way.”
Tiger reveals his practice routines in the opening episode of “My Game: Tiger Woods.” To watch this exclusive program, with Tiger’s straight-to-camera commentary and detailed demonstrations, click here (in the U.S., China and Korea) and here for all other countries.
Experience lessons directly from Tiger Woods, in a way and at a level never before seen from the game’s unequivocal star.