I had the great fortune to be part of Seve Ballesteros’s introduction to championship golf, playing the final two rounds with him at the 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale, just his second major. Nobody on our side of the pond knew much about him, but there he was, all of 19 years old, with a two-stroke lead heading into Sunday. I was lucky to pass him on the final day and grab the second of my two majors. Ironically, he had just signed with the same management team that handled my affairs, and he wore Johnny Miller–brand pants for the entire tournament.
From Birkdale in 1976 to the day he passed away in May of last year, Seve basically used only one backswing, but he paired it with an unending series of finishes (see below). He could make the ball bend in any direction seemingly just by looking at it. Let’s just say there wasn’t a shot you could think of that Seve wouldn’t try, and try under the most pressure-packed situations.
If you’re like most of the amateurs I’ve played with over the years, your game is anything but Seve-like. You want one swing and one ball flight, and your only goal is to hit the ball straight. That’s not really playing golf. My advice to you is to channel Ballesteros and build some real shotmaking skills by emptying a practice bucket with nine different shots: fades, draws and straight balls that each travel low, medium and high. When I was at the top of my game, I did this drill every day. At the very least it’ll help you develop the creativity that all great players possess. Remember, there are no rules against hitting high draws or low fades. In fact, if you find that one of those nine shots is easy for you to hit and you actually plan for it, you’ll cut your handicap in half in a heartbeat.