Ed. note: In his debut column, GOLF’s playing editor breaks down his 2020 Masters, why family matters most and how shoes can make or break your round.
Lessons learned at Augusta National
I was so excited to play the Masters back in November. Coming off my U.S. Open win at Winged Foot the month prior, I really did like my chances at Augusta National. The T34 was a disappointment, but looking back on that week, it’s obvious that I wasn’t feeling my best physically. Truth be told, I was feeling pretty darn tired as soon I stepped on the grounds. But, hey — no excuses.
I certainly made enough birdies to win (18). I just made too many mistakes. Lesson: No matter how far you hit it, golf is still very much about missing in the right spots and holing putts — two things I did a great job of at Winged Foot and maybe got a little loose with at Augusta. The silver lining? The next Masters is but three months away.
I can’t wait to compete for a green jacket again. One positive takeaway was my experience in dealing with all the media hype. It was crazy and really does add to the pressure. Now, I have more familiarity with how to handle it.
You’re always learning in this game, and it’s not all swing positions and shot shapes. I walked away with an even greater appreciation for what Tiger Woods has had to deal with for so many years. It’s part of the journey. It’s why I play this game: to win at the highest level no matter what it takes. That’s my goal. I know I’m doing all of the right things, and I have a great team around me. Again, April can’t get here soon enough!
Why I haven’t added a 48-inch driver to my bag (yet)
I go down lots of rabbit holes. Sometimes they lead nowhere, and that’s okay. You can learn a lot from why something doesn’t work, which only makes you smarter for next time. I underestimated how hard it was going to be switching to a 48-inch driver as quickly as I wanted to.
At the speed I’m swinging right now, I can’t simply attach a longer shaft to my driver head. But I’m still testing it every day and constantly finding out new things, so I’m confident we’ll see it sometime in 2021.
How to pick the perfect golf shoe
The ground is your only point of leverage. That’s why shoes are such an important piece of golf equipment. They need to give you enough stability for when you push into the ground but also allow mobility so you can rotate through without adding undue stress on your joints. A lot of shoes out there do one or the other, so shop wisely. Oh, and, of course, they have to look good!
My go-to? The Puma IGNITE PWRADAPT Caged.
3 Augusta findings that can help you, too
1. On many of ANGC’s par 3s I played the ball slightly back in my stance. This always helps me keep my weight forward, which in turn helps me compress the ball with less dynamic loft. If you’re looking for a piercing flight with less spin, give it a try.
2. You saw it on TV: I got greedy at times at the fall Masters, which put me in places I would have rather avoided. Let this be a lesson for you too: The best way to stop a bad shot from becoming a bad hole is to take your medicine and move on.
3. Green books aren’t allowed at Augusta, which means I had to adjust my green-reading approach. The simplest advice is to look for the high spot around the hole as soon as you get to the green and remember that everything will feed off that slope.
Why family matters most
Last season was great. I won a major. But with all of the Covid restrictions, it was hard not seeing my family as much. We were able to Facetime after the U.S. Open win, and I lost it. I thought about everything they’ve done for me and all their sacrifices. I owe so much to the people who helped me become the person I am, and I was grateful I got to spend time with them at Thanksgiving.
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