The secrets to underdog Chez Reavie’s game — and what you can learn from him
Chez Reavie was already a stellar ballstriker when I started coaching him in 2015. My first job was to temper his preconceived notion that his swing contained too many deficiencies, and that these deficiencies were to blame for a serious left-wrist injury he suffered in 2012. (Chez missed the following two seasons recovering from surgery.) There may have been some merit to his anxiety, but my job as a coach—for Chez or any player—is to emphasize the good parts of a player’s technique first and highlight areas that can be modified to avoid stress on the body second.
So far, the plan has worked. Chez bagged his first victory in 11 years (the Travelers) back in June, and has notched four additional top-10 finishes this season (through the Open Championship). There’s been a lot of hard work, but also some smart focus on ways to get Chez where he deserves to be—competing week in and week out—sooner than later. Call them “Chez’s Cheats.
Here’s how they can help your game, too.
Chez is a straight hitter; in fact, he’s number one on Tour with a 75.4 fairways-hit percentage (through the John Deere Classic) while averaging 287 yards off the tee. Credit the latter to the efficiencies created by Cheat No. 1: Chez’s Smash Factor consistently hovers around 1.51/1.52.
To achieve this, Chez prioritizes impact location and club delivery dynamics over swing speed, resulting in a high launch angle (14 degrees), low spin (2,100 rpm) and a sub-40 percent descent angle. These values combine to help Chez optimize carry and roll for max distance gains. He squeezes every possible yard out of his swing, which, when combined with his world-class accuracy, makes his driver a serious weapon.
The Cheat: On tighter holes where the rest of the field might defer to a 3-wood or hybrid to ensure they hit the fairway, Chez can confidently pull driver, thanks to his precision. His accuracy is a weapon that not only gives him cleaner shots into the green, but levels the distance playing field. The lesson: Build accuracy first, then speed.
The key to posting good scores is avoiding bogeys. There are some golden rules for this, and the first is to accept the fact that bad shots happen. Eventually, you’ll have to rely on your ability to scramble, so whenever possible, make sure that you’re chipping and pitching uphill from the fat side of the green.
If you’re oblivious to bad-miss areas when mapping out your approach- shot strategy, you’re toast. If you’re in trouble off the tee, don’t always try to advance the ball as close to the green as possible. Sometimes laying back to a fuller shot will allow you to attack a pin with a wedge—rather than having to attempt a short difficult pitch to a tucked pin—and save par.
The Cheat: Bogey avoidance is about managing your misses and leaving yourself easier up-and-down chances. You can learn from Chez’s 61.94 scrambling rate by picking conservative targets and trying to leave yourself uphill chips.
There are an infinite number of ways to putt, but I strongly believe that your putting stroke should mirror your full swing. Your stroke will hold up better under pressure this way, and this in turn will do wonders for both your scores and your nervous system. When Chez practices, he works hard to embrace a flowing, arcing stroke (instead of a more structured, straight-back-and-through stroke). His primary goal is to start putts on the correct line.
The Cheat: In your practice and when you’re out there rolling the rock for real, use start line and speed to grade the quality of your stroke, rather than trying to rely on what it looks and feels like. Nothing else matters. Part two: Get fit for a putter that suits your stroke type and aim bias. It’s true: You can buy better results. Do whatever it takes to get the ball in the hole—just like Chez!