1. Shaping Tee Shots
Jason would say the most important swing thought here is trying to create the feel in the hands and the body for both shot shapes. Jason and I aim to arrive at Augusta each year with him feeling confident his hands and body can feel the difference between the two. To sharpen that sensation, he practises with a coloured stick placed 12 feet in front of his body on the range and hits golf balls around it, both directions. That gives him a focal point; he can determine if the ball is starting out on the correct line and curving back.
TIP: The question you need to ask yourself is: do you really know how to draw (or fade) the ball? For a draw, your need to aim your cannon (the feet, shoulders and arms) to the right of the target, and the clubface needs to be closed (pointing left) relative to the feet line at impact. It’s the opposite for a fade: you need to have your cannon aiming left with the clubface slightly open at impact. If you’re a low marker I would encourage you to develop the ability to hold that clubface open (or close it) around the impact zone, to teach feel. If you’re a higher handicapper, I would have the clubface set open or closed at address instead.
2. Soaring Long Irons
Hitting high trajectories with his 2, 3 and 4-iron is vital for Jason going into the Masters. Those shots come in very handy on the par 5s, particularly on holes 13 and 15.
TIP: Most amateurs don’t have the swing speed that creates the spin needed to get those longer clubs airborne. They often feel they need to lift the ball into the air, which leads to leaning back at impact and all sorts of harmful compensations. If this is you, switch to a hybrid instead of those long irons. I’ve replaced my 3 and 4-iron with hybrids. Why? For amateurs to hit long irons consistently, they need to make the same motion with a 3-iron as they would a 7-iron.
Even Jason is going to miss greens from time to time at Augusta. A good chipping game goes a long way on bentgrass greens with severe undulations. On top of that, an important skill required at Augusta is chipping to a target sometimes 30 feet away from the hole.
TIP: Gaining the trust necessary to aim well away from the hole only gives you more options to make par. The key is to initially pretend it’s a long putt and read its break accordingly. Then, choose a club that will bounce on the green as soon as possible and allow it to roll out to the hole.
4. Lag Putting
Jason works extremely hard on the lag putts in the weeks leading up to Augusta. It’s essential at the Masters, where 40-foot putts that break heavily are commonplace.
TIP: For this, we work exclusively on speed with two drills, which can help you, too. First, place a tee 12 inches behind the hole on a 15-foot putt, and do the same for a 30-foot putt. Alternate between the two shots, with a goal of draining the putt or stopping it before the tee. The key to this skill is a consistent tempo – a 2-to-1 ratio. If you need help, a metronome can be your best friend. Look it up!
5. Short-Game Technique
For chips and pitches, Jason has little wrist hinge. He uses the body to support the motion and has ground this out during years of practice.
TIP: The No.1 mistake I see amateurs make in the short game is they are too wristy. To compensate, they stand over the ball and don’t move their shoulders – that’s where the yips come from. Feel as though turning your shoulders lifts your arms, hands and thus the clubface off the ground, but with a minimal amount of wrist cock.
– with Evin Priest