Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Winter-Spring 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 109 of 243

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT B Y L A I R D S M A L L Overcoming Fear on the Golf Course he 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach will be historic—not just be- cause it is the sixth time we have hosted our National Championship, but also because it will be played during the Pebble Beach Centennial Celebra- tion. Winners of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach have been the game's best players, and have showcased spectacular golf shots that have become part of the modern history of the game. Jack Nicklaus in 1972, hitting a 1-iron on the 17th hole and knocking the flagstick for a kick-in birdie. Tom Watson in 1982, chipping in on the 17th hole for birdie from an unbelievable location to beat Nicklaus. Tom Kite in 1992, shooting a final-round even par in 30 MPH winds, which some still believe to be the best closing round in a major tournament. Tiger Woods in 2000, beating the field by an incredible 15 shots. And Graeme McDowell in 2010, who became the first European winner in 40 years. I want to share a few stories from past U.S. Open champions, knowing their wisdom can help us all play better golf. Tom Kite: Take Dead Aim There's little you can do on the practice range to simulate the butterflies you feel on the first tee, especially the first tee at Pebble Beach. The mistake amateurs make is that they pay too much attention to this feeling, as opposed to what they're trying to do in the golf swing. It doesn't really mat- ter how your stomach feels or whether your hands are shaking; it's all about making a golf swing and committing to the target. It's a huge positive because of all that adrenaline pumping through your body, which is what allows you to do superhuman things. Your concentration gets better; your body becomes more athletic and more dynamic. You have to understand that it's a positive thing, not a negative, and when you start to realize that and you look forward to the feeling of getting nervous, that's when it becomes an advantage. Once you learn to accept these nerves, the only thing left to do is take dead aim. My interpretation of taking dead aim is that for the two or three seconds it takes to play a shot, you have to be so locked in that noth- ing in your life is more important than that particular golf shot. Tom Watson: Risk-Reward The 17th hole is the scene of the most famous shot of Watson's storied career, and it didn't come hitting the green off the tee. Needing a birdie to forge ahead of Nicklaus on the final day of the 1982 U.S. Open, Watson's tee shot on the 17th hole drifted into the deep rough, 16 feet from the cup. A par looked out of the question, but somehow Watson miraculously chipped in for a birdie and a one-shot lead. He followed with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole for a two-shot win over Nicklaus. "That particular chip shot was a very short, downhill chip shot," recalled Watson. "I looked at it and frankly, thought to myself that if I could hit the pin I could stop the ball. "I knew it broke left, I aimed left of the hole…you never know how the ball is going to come out of the heavy rough, but came out exactly the way I meant it to, which is softly, and as high as I could hit it." "When you are faced with a situation like that, you have to understand the risk and reward of it," said Watson. "If there is a high risk factor you try and keep your thoughts simple. Play to an area (of the green) that is maybe not your best outcome but is better than a poor outcome. It's hard to tell that to most golfers because of their egos; they think I'm going to play my absolute best shot right here. Well, that doesn't occur very often. You have to go with what you're capable of, understanding the next move, just as in chess. When you learn how play golf that way, and you're consis- tently thinking about your next move with each shot that you play, then you have a good handle on how to play the game." Jack Nicklaus: How to Avoid the Big Numbers Jack Nicklaus didn't win 18 major titles by playing carelessly. The Golden Bear managed his game meticulously and, for the most part, stayed away from the costly double and triple bogeys that can sabotage a major championship bid. "I tried not to make any bogeys or doubles," said Nicklaus, who recorded 67 top-10 finishes in the majors. "The whole key to winning a major champi- onship is to not have any disastrous holes. I rarely made double in majors. When I found myself making double, it was because of real stupidity on my part for not really playing the hole the way I should – although sometimes you might get a water hazard and can't really avoid it. I'm not going to gamble at making a birdie if it means I might make a double or triple bogey. That's a pretty bad gamble. That's how you lose golf tournaments, immediately." Some good advice on how to play the game, from some of the best to ever play the game. Go out and put some of this thinking into play on your next round, and see what you can learn. For more tips on how to have fun playing golf, please visit us at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy – you can reach us at (831) 622-8650. T 108 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 9

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Carmel Magazine - Carmel Magazine, Winter-Spring 2019