Tips for hitting crisp iron shots like the Masters contenders did on Saturday
Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and John Rahm.
They're all on the first page of the Masters leaderboard through 54 holes and it's because they all put on an absolute ball-striking clinic on Saturday at Augusta National.
Reed shot a 5-under 67 and will take a three-stroke lead at 14 under into the final round over McIlroy, who fired a 7-under 65. Fowler, five back, and Rahm, six back, also shot 65s.
So, how did they go so low?
"By never wavering from hitting the shots they're not comfortable hitting," said Jeff Martin, PGA Assistant Professional from Wollaston Golf Club in Milton, Mass. "Patrick Reed hit a beautiful approach on No. 11 -- the hardest hole on the course -- and it was just a shot that was comfortable to him, just a little draw."
Martin said the key to solid ball-striking is simply sticking to what you know -- even for the average golfer. If you naturally hit a fade, aim a little left of your target and go ahead and hit that fade.
For Reed, who draws everything, he simply stuck to his shot pattern.
"As far as your set up and everything goes with iron shots, I would say just rely on your fundamentals," Martin said. "Everything goes back to that. Rely on good ball position when you're hitting any kind of shot and stay committed to the shots you know how to hit. It's really important to have good rhythm. When you have a good rhythm, you can calm yourself even on the shots that are a little uncomfortable."
And as you start hitting solid shot after solid shot, your confidence grows and grows, just like it did for Reed, McIlroy, Fowler and Rahm.
It probably doesn't mean that you're going to shoot 65s and 67s like those guys, but you will see lower scores.
"It's the old adage, 'it's easy to play good when you're playing good,'" Martin said. "You're confidence grows and you don't play stupid shots. You have to pick and choose your battles, but when you're in the zone hitting great shots, you want to take advantage of that. You're looking at one thing -- the flag a-- nd you want to stay out of your own way. You don't even think about the score."
When you're in the zone -- whatever your zone is depending on ability -- you know that everything comes easy. Things that are typically difficult are suddenly second nature.
The opposite can be true when you're struggling. And we've all been there.
"When you can't find planet Earth with your ball, everything comes to your mind," Martin said. "Look at those guys who played so well today. None of them were thinking, 'where is my clubhead at the top?' They're thinking, 'ball, target, go."
Expect to see a lot more of that, "ball, target, go," at Augusta National on Sunday... and then hopefully apply it to your game soon, too.