A Lesson Learned: Finishing up strong

Martin Laird at Bay Hill
Getty Images
Martin Laird's strong finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard led to his second PGA Tour win.
Scott Szymoniak, PGA

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, March 27, 2011 | 9:19 p.m.

No one can argue that the PGA Tour’s Florida swing can provide great drama due to some exciting – and difficult – finishing holes.  Starting with the Bear Trap at PGA National to the Blue Monster at Doral, the Tour players need to be on the top of their game at the end of their rounds in order to finish strong.  Bay Hill – home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week – is no exception.  16, 17, and 18 are some of the most exciting holes in golf…who can forget Robert Gamez holing out on 18 to win in 1990 or Tiger dropping a 20-footer to win in 2009 (or his 25-footer to win in 2008).  One thing is for sure – these players were fresh physically and mentally at the end of their round just as they were at the beginning.

The rest of us can certainly learn from this.  How many times have you had a good round going only to let it slip away towards the end?  Are you tired when you are finished with your round?  There are many factors that can attribute to this, but three things really stand out:

General Conditioning – It’s no secret that the tour players are in great shape.  We often hear a lot about their workout regimens, and a big part of that is what they do to improve their cardiovascular performance.  If you want to improve your game, improve your cardio.  You don’t have to go out and start training for marathon, but making little changes to your daily routines – like taking stairs instead of elevators or going for a brisk walk in the evening – can lead to better performance on the course.  For me, there is nothing better than throwing a few clubs in a little carry bag and walking nine.

Nutrition during your round – This is a simple concept, but so often abused.  If you want to finish your round strong, then you need to be hydrated and energized!  Drink water throughout your round, and when you come to the halfway house make a smart decision on what you put into your body as this will affect your mental and physical condition coming down the stretch.

Good swing mechanics – Efficient golf swings do not take as much energy to create and are easier to repeat!  This also leads to less practice swings throughout your round, not to mention helping the pace of play.  A player that makes compensations throughout his swing will only be able to manipulate for so long…at some point it will break down.  Seek the help of someone reputable to help you identify the flaws in your swing and work to become more efficient at striking the ball.

Any one of these things alone will help to improve your game…but combining the three will take your game to places it hasn’t been.  Martin Laird proved it last week.  There is no better feeling than finishing a round strong and creating momentum for the next time you tee it up…or to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational!

Scott Szymoniak is the Director of Instruction for Canongate Golf Clubs in Atlanta, Georgia. He has coached professionals on six different tours worldwide who have combined to earn over $4 million in prize money. He has also led players to collegiate victories at the Division I and II levels. Scott created and developed the Learning Center at Country Club of the South in conjunction with the Mizuno Test and Research facility before joining the Canongate group. Scott can be reached at sszymoniak@canongategolf.com.

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