Well here it is, the 2012 PGA Tour season has begun and we have our first winner of the year. I always love watching the opening Tournament of Champions - Maui may be one of the most beautiful places on earth and the Plantation Course at Kapalua is one of the best golf courses in the world. I might add, as a sister Troon Golf facility, it's exceedingly well managed too!
In a field of players who won last year, it's still no surprise to see one of the best players in the world, Steve Stricker, walk away with the trophy. Stricker did everything you need to do to distinguish himself from the field. He drove the ball well, his short game was solid and his putting was - as usual - outstanding.
One thing about doing well at Kapalua, similar to playing at my course, The Classic Club in Palm Desert, California, is that one challenge to putting up good scores will be the wind. Since Steve Stricker had four rounds in the 60s, it's obvious he handled all the challenges pretty well.
But for those of you who we might see at Kapalua, The Classic Club or any course that has wind, here's a few tips on how to handle those conditions a little easier.
1.) Use the bump and run/chip shot more often around the greens when possible. Wind can affect a pitch or flop shot more than you think, sending it off line or influencing the spin on the ball. You will be much more consistent in blustery conditions if you keep the ball closer to the ground.
2) Take an extra club and reduce your swing speed 10% on full shots. This will reduce the amount of spin on the ball, reducing the impact the wind will have on your ball flight, regardless of wind patterns (cross, down or up).
3) Take a more direct line for downwind shots. When with a tailwind, the ball will not be as influenced by draw or cut spin, making your shot dispersion less, but putting an emphasis or your shot’s starting direction.
If you watched the tournament this past weekend, you saw Steve Stricker chip in on hole # 16 on Sunday with a bump and run shot. He also managed his tempo very well and was really only aggressive on downwind shots.
A few simple mental adjustments to your approach to a windy round of golf, should not only improve your score, but your enjoyment of the game as well.
Here's hoping your 2012 golf season is your best yet!