Initially, we balked at the thought of ranking the best shots from the 2016-2017 season. Was it even possible? PGA Tour pros alone took more than 1.1 million strokes last year, and 35 different players notched victories. Surely, at least one award-worthy shot played a role in each of those wins. But we liked the idea, so to make the impossible possible, we systematically cut the candidate list to swings with highlight-reel appeal that also happened to unfold under the most pressure. Ultimately, our goal was to use the year’s top plays to help you improve your play. Our guess is that the pressure a Tour pro feels in a career-defining moment is the anxiety that looms over recreational players on almost every swing (at least it does for us). You learn a lot by studying the best, and glean even more by copying their finest moments. Here they are. The envelope, please…
El Niño stiffed an 8-iron on the 72nd hole of the Masters to set up par and a date with Justin Rose in the playoff, then hit another to birdie range for the outright win on the first extra hole. It was Sergio’s first major win in 74 attempts.
HOW YOU CAN HIT IT
To compress the ball on iron shots like Sergio does, the shaft needs to lean slightly toward the target at impact. Unless you maintain upper-body speed through the hitting zone, the club will pass your hands and the shaft will lean away from the target. Your contact? Thin rather than flush. To get the right feel, hit 60-yard pitch shots on the range, holding your finish with each one. Check that the toe is up with the clubhead low on the arc, not way above your hands. Blend this movement into your full swing and you’ll be good to go. — Top 100 Teacher Carol Preisinger
The Other Greatest Shots: