You’ve Got This

How to beat the tough holes

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Play - by martin kaymer – with matthew rudy

most play­ers get to the No 1-hand­i­cap hole and think about just try­ing to sur­vive with­out de­stroy­ing the round. Be­ing cau­tious is un­der­stand­able. We feel it, too, es­pe­cially in the ma­jors, where course set­ups can be bru­tal. But you’ll have more suc­cess if you treat that 440-me­tre par 4 the same as all the oth­ers, in­stead of play­ing it safe. I used the strate­gies here to win two ma­jor championships, and they’ll work just as well for you no mat­ter what hole you’re play­ing. It’s time to start look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge and stop play­ing with fear.

SEE YOUR SHOT

Be­fore I step up to any shot – on any hole, hard or easy – I go through the same mental process. I cre­ate a pic­ture in my mind of ex­actly what the shot will do. See­ing the spe­cific start­ing line, tra­jec­tory, land­ing and fin­ish­ing point is a lot dif­fer­ent than hop­ing just to hit it out there some­where safe. When you have a spe­cific im­age in your mind and com­mit to it, you tighten your fo­cus. It’s also an im­por­tant part of han­dling pres­sure. You’re giv­ing your mind some­thing to do other than be ner­vous.

DON’T OVERSWING

Long, hard holes are usu­ally vis­ually in­tim­i­dat­ing from the tee. That’s done on pur­pose to make you un­com­fort­able from the start. In those tense sit­u­a­tions, it’s very com­mon to swing faster than nor­mal. And when your tempo changes, your se­quenc­ing gets thrown off, which pro­duces a bad shot at the worst time. On a hard driv­ing hole, do the same things you would on a hole you love to play. Take the club back at your usual un­hur­ried pace and make the same smooth swing you would when you’re play­ing your best.

“Keep your back­swing tempo the same. Nice and smooth.”

HAVE AN AP­PROACH PLAN

Bad de­ci­sions are just as costly as bad swings – and many times they go hand in hand. When you have a hard ap­proach, don’t get con­sumed with all the trou­ble around the green. In­stead, pay at­ten­tion to key fun­da­men­tals such as align­ment, aim and pick­ing the right club for the shot. Good plan­ning helps take away the in­de­ci­sion over the ball that of­ten leads to out-of-con­trol swings. A good swing thought to marry with your plan is to main­tain the ex­ten­sion you feel in your arms from ad­dress to fin­ish. You’ll hit it solid and make a hard hole play easy.

RECORD ROUND

I set the 36-hole scor­ing record for the US Open (10 un­der par) in 2014, but the num­ber you see on the ball I use for every tour­na­ment round com­mem­o­rates the 59 I shot in 2006, my first year as a pro­fes­sional. It was in the sec­ond round of the Hab­s­burg Clas­sic, on the Euro­pean Pro­fes­sional De­vel­op­ment Tour, when I was 21 years old. It’s hard to be dis­ap­pointed about go­ing 13 un­der, but I still think about the birdie chance I missed on 17, an easy par 5.

Martin Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2014 US Open, and made the clinch­ing putt for Europe at the 2012 Ry­der Cup.

PHO­TOS BY DOM FURORE

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