Rehearse Your Shot

Published:

Tom Watson Instruction

I like to play fast, but it isn't always possible, as you know. I deal with delays by focusing on one thought. A good example is the 1983 British Open at Royal Birkdale. I had a one-stroke lead going to the last hole, a long par 4.

I hit a good drive, got to my ball and saw that the group in front hadn't reached the green. It was going to be a while -- a problem when you're under pressure and want to get a shot over with.

I had a 2-iron in my hands for the 213-yard approach, and my one thought was to put the club in the correct position on the downswing. Put it in the slot, as teachers call it. I practiced the feel of that first move down with slow-motion "shadow swings," and practiced it and practiced it. When the green finally cleared, I didn't think twice.

I executed my swing thought just right. The wind was left to right, and I hooked my ball into it and toward the hole. I couldn't see it land because the crowd closed in, but it went through an opening between the front bunkers and ran up about 15 feet under the hole. I two-putted to finish a stroke ahead of Hale Irwin and Andy Bean.

Tom Watson