You may want to know how I won three PGA Tour events to start the 2013-14 season when I hadn't raised a single Tour trophy in 187 starts. Good question. For starters, it doesn't hurt to have Butch Harmon in my corner. But while he's helped me a lot, I really credit three P's -- persistence, patience and (smart) practice -- with maximizing my scoring potential at the tender age of 35. You may not aspire to win Tour events. More likely, you simply want to break 90, or 80, or shoot your personal best, or win your club title. Whatever your goal is, my five fundamental keys will get you playing the best golf of your life. I'm revealing my tee-to-green guide to help you hit it longer and straighter, reach more greens, pitch it tighter, make more putts, and even shape shots at will. They're the five game-changing moves that launched me to the top of the midseason FedEx Cup standings, and they'll help you reach the next level, too.
1: FREE UP YOUR PUTTING STROKE
If you watch the best putters, you'll notice that they swing the putterhead freely, letting it move on an arcing path back and through the ball. In contrast, most everyday players I see try to keep the putter square the whole way. This typically leads to a stiff, outside-in stroke and an open face at impact—and a lot of missed putts. I've seen putting fads come and go, so I know what works and what doesn't. I promise you that you'll have much better results using a stroke that creates a tight roll rather than one that cuts across the ball with an open face.
Try My Arc-Stroke Drill
Lay an alignment stick or one of your clubs just inside of and parallel to the target line on a straight five-foot putt [photo, above left]. Sole your putter so that the heel just barely touches the alignment stick or shaft, and practice making stress-free strokes that move slightly to the inside on the backstroke and slightly to the inside again on the through-stroke [so that the toe of the putter passes the heel]. If you set up properly with your eyes slightly inside the ball and your arms hanging comfortably beneath your shoulders, you'll merely have to rock your shoulders to create the proper path. For some players, me included, it helps to set the putterhead down with the toe slightly in the air, as this promotes a more arcing stroke shape.
Once you have the feel of an arcing stroke, add a ball to the process. With the stick in place, spend about 25 minutes practicing straight five-footers. In addition to practicing straight putts, find a five-footer that moves right to left, then one that moves left to right, and repeat each for 25 minutes. Sure, it's a time-consuming drill, but it works—through the Players Championship, I was first in strokes gained putting, one of the biggest reasons why I'm having a career season.