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TLDR: Distance control with wedges, and practicing your short putts
Welcome to our new series, Golfer to Golfer, where we listen to one avid player in hopes that the rest of us can take away something that might improve our own games.
This week, we’ve got Rory McIlroy, speaking on Augusta at his press conference of this week’s PGA Tour event…
There’s one gap left in Rory McIlroy’s illustrious resume, and ironically, it’s the one he seemed best suited to from the start: A green jacket.
In a bid to get one into the closet this year, Rory’s been studying up on Augusta National early, jetting into Augusta early to scout the course ahead of his pro-am at this week’s Valero Texas Open,
“There’s some changes to the golf course on 11 and 15. 3, 13 and 17 are all brand new greens,” he said. “It was good to be there, good to see the place. I don’t feel like there’s a rush to get there next week and cram to prepare. I feel like I’ve done most of my work.”
All that’s left now is to turn that knowledge into application.
Rory was asked about that, too. He says when it comes to Augusta, it comes down to mastering two things.
Take note, golfers, because it’s advice that will help you on any course.
There’s no real rough at Augusta National, and the course changes elevation significantly. It’s part of what makes the course such a difficult walk, and also a bombers paradise. You have some room off the tee if you want to let it rip.
But the flip side of hitting lots of drivers around Augusta National is that you’ll have lots of short irons and wedges into greens. If you’re not good at dialing those in, you won’t be able to take advantage of your long drives.
“Distance control is so important at Augusta National,” he says. “And you’re going to have to hit a lot of those shots under pressure to try to win a golf tournament.”
It’s good advice on any course. Dial in your wedges by altering the length of your backswing, practice them often, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the good shots you hit off the tee.
This isn’t the most glamorous piece of advice, but sometimes golfers don’t appreciate how important it is. Mark Broadie breaks down the numbers for you right here, but in a nutshell: If you can be solid from inside 10 feet, you’ll be cruising in the low 80s.
“The greens here can prepare you [for Augusta National]. The runoffs around the greens, the undulations, the bunkering,” Rory says of TPC San Antonio, the host of this week’s event. “Around the greens, holing out from inside six feet is so important.”
Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Service Journalism at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.
An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
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