Carmel Magazine

Spring-Summer 2019

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Page 119 of 267

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT B Y L A I R D S M A L L 2019 U.S. Open – Getting into Championship Mode he 119th U.S. Open Championship will be played at Pebble Beach Golf Links June 10-16, part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Pebble Beach. This is the sixth time that Pebble Beach Golf Links will host — the most of any site in the last 50 years — and is the 13th USGA champi- onship to be played at Pebble Beach. An important note about our National Championship: Pebble Beach was the first public course to host the U.S. Open in 1972, and the tradition continues to this day. This means that anyone can come out to Pebble Beach and play one of the best courses in the coun- try that hosts the U.S. Open! We also look forward to hosting the 2023 U.S. Women's Open (our first) and the 2027 U.S. Open (for the seventh time!). Some of the most historic shots in golf have been recorded at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach: Jack Nicklaus in 1972 when he hit the flag stick on 17 with a 1-iron, Tom Watson in 1982 chipping in on 17 from an impossi- ble lie next to the green to beat Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Kite in 1992 shoot- ing an even-par round of 72 in 30-mile-per-hour winds, with some calling this the best-ever final round in a major. To give an idea of how strong the winds were during Kite's round that Sunday: On the seventh hole, the short downhill par-3 playing 105 yards, he struck a 6-iron. Of course, in 2000, Tiger Woods dominated the U.S. Open when he won by 15 shots, and in 2010, Graeme McDowell became the first European golfer in 40 years to win the championship. To be sure, this year's U.S. Open will deliver drama and a new history. Getting Ready for the Championship with Lessons from a Past Winner As we get excited for this year's championship and work on our games in anticipation for our own championship moments on the course, I'd like to share an idea from one of my students, Tom Kite, the winner of the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Partial-distance wedges are some of the most difficult shots to execute consistently. Kite is widely considered one of the greatest wedge players of all time, and says that the key to knocking down the flag inside 60 yards is exercising good distance control. "It's all about feeling the distance, feeling the touch, being able to make solid contact, and making the ball go the right distance," Kite says. "Everybody hits the ball reasonably straight from 30 yards out— they may hit it fat or thin, but they're not going to hit it 30 yards offline." The reason amateurs struggle to make the ball go the right distance on partial wedge shots is that they don't know how to throttle down their clubhead speed, Kite explains. "You see them swing the club back way too long and fast. There's way too much speed and length, and consequently they have to decelerate the club. "We all know the club is more stable when it's accelerating," Kite continues. "That acceleration is the key to every shot, and you have to learn how to accelerate the club to make the shot go the required distance. Now, having said that, it doesn't have to be accelerating fast, but it has to be accelerating." As an example, gravity accelerates at a constant rate. Good wedge play- ers use gravity like acceleration on their downswing, no sudden accelera- tion or fast movement of the club. It's a constant gradual acceleration. Keep an eye on this tip when you are viewing the U.S. Open both in per- son and on TV. Great Viewing Opportunities to Catch the Action in Person There are plenty of locations to watch this wonderful event unfold in June (make sure to purchase your tickets at!), and these are a few of my favorite spots on the course: • The Seventh Hole: This beautiful par-3 is one of the most photographed holes in the world. And while it is short, the wind can make this a treacher- ous hole. In addition to Kite hitting 6-iron to this hole in 1992, Sam Snead once used a putter from the tee to keep the ball under the wind and hit the ball in the greenside bunker. From there he made par. All others were hitting 2- and 3-irons off the tee. So creativity is part of playing this game. • The Eighth Hole: Spectators can see the approach shots to the green as the players hit over the ocean to the green. • The 12th Hole: A long par 3 with a wide, yet very shallow, green. When you watch this special championship, you will take away many things from the greatest players in the world. It might be how they prepare, or how they practice on the tee or around the green. You will be amazed by their creativity and courage in striking many shots. All are things you can observe and use to help add some of these elements to your own game. Look forward to seeing you at the U.S. Open, and if you are bitten by the golf bug before or after the championship, please come visit us at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy. You can reach us at 831/622-8650. T 118 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 9

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