Martin Kaymer: 10 Rules for lower scores


Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer shares his best tips, from driver to putter

In this tutorial, European Tour Professional Martin Kaymer gives you his top 10 tips. This piece comes from our sister magazine, Golf World. For subscriptions - click here

1. Go to your comfort shot to find the fairway

If I absolutely have to hit the fairway, I ask myself what do I need to do to feel the most comfortable? For me, that is to tee the ball a little bit lower since, subconsciously, that gives me the confidence to hit down on it.

2. Tee it high and drop the right shoulder for distance

If I want to hit a really long drive, I tee the ball up a further forward - almost outside my left foot - and drop my right shoulder. Then I make a very slow backswing to ensure that I make a full shoulder turn. From there, I just let it rip!

3. Focus on rhythm under pressure

If you're under pressure in a match or a medal, it's too late to think about technique. I learned that lesson in my first Ryder Cup. Simply focus on your rhythm. I swing at about 60% of my normal speed in a situation like that. 

4. Tweak your ball position to vary your shots 

I don't like varying my technique or swing speed to hit pitch shots of different lengths. Instead, I vary my ball position. When the pin's at the front of the green and I need a lot of spin, I play the ball more towards my left foot so that it goes a bit higher. When the pin is cut at the back, I play the ball closer to my right foot and I drive into it. The beauty of pitching and chipping is that there's not only one shot, but so many different ways of hitting the ball close.

5. Learn to chip with every club in the bag

I have six or seven clubs that I frequently use around the greens. When you're practising, take out a 5-iron, a 3-iron and a hybrid and experiment with some bump-and-runs. If you don't have to carry the ball a long way, a short swing with a straighter faced club is often a safer option. 

6. Get versatile with your putting practice

A quick way to improve your feel is to take 10-, 15- and 20-ft putts and try to hole them in different ways – hit some rm, some at normal speed and try to die a few in. I practise right-to-left putts, left-to-right putts and both uphill and downhill putts. This removes the subconscious fear that exists within all of us and lets us swing freely.

7. You've got to have belief to hole short putts

Holing short putts is all about removing the distractions from your mind. You don't want to stand over the ball thinking, "Is that the right line?" or "Did I aim at the right spot?" In general, golfers doubt themselves too much on the greens. Make your decision, stick to it and accept the outcome. 

8. Remember, golf is not a life or death scenario

I have two key swing thoughts that I use every round. The first is to keep my grip pressure relaxed. The second is to focus on my rhythm and tempo. One mental key I use to help me come through stressful situations on the course is to always remember that nothing really bad is going to happen.

For example, in the 2012 Ryder Cup when I needed to make that winning putt I was not shaking at all. Yes, I cared a lot, I was excited, but it was just a putt. At the end of the day, you're just playing a game.

9. Vary your grip pressure for different shots

As I already mentioned, grip pressure is an important cue for me on the course. But I like to vary it to play different shots. Let's take a scale of one to five, with one being the lightest and five being the firmest. For putting, I'm maybe one-and-a-half.

For chipping, I grip a little firmer, maybe up to two because I tend to lose my feel on the club as a result of holding it too tightly. For the driver, I get up to maybe two or three. When you play important tournaments with a lot of pressure there's already a tendency to grip it firmer, so it's good to remind yourself of those grip thoughts once in a while.

10. Find a way to apply pressure on every hole

One of my key thoughts when playing head-to- head is to apply pressure on my opponent at some point during every hole. If you hit a bad tee shot, focus on hitting your next shot into a position where it's closer to the hole than your opponent's ball.

Don't let an opponent off the hook, even if it looks like you're not going to win the hole. Always try to finish the hole so they need to keep playing. I always make my opponent putt, even if I'm out of the hole. If he gets annoyed, that's good for you on the next hole.

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