Why this pro has been trying to miss greens on purpose (yes, really!)
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Pressure is nearly impossible to simulate. Knowing how you’ll react to pressure? Also tough to predict. Until you’re under the bright lights and the pressure’s on, there’s no telling how you’ll react.
This is what makes golf practice so mystifying. You can put in the hours on the range and practice green, but when the pressure is on, all bets are off. The “clutch gene” is intangible. The best way to get better in pressure situations is putting yourself in them over and over.
Danielle Kang is familiar with this truth, and she’s gotten quite good under pressure. The 29-year-old has six LPGA Tour wins in her career — plus a major — and she’s become one of the top names in the game.
Still, she’s still always trying to improve. Especially in high-leverage situations. And one of her methods is a bit outside the box.
When chatting with the media at the Chevron Championship, Kang admitted she missed some greens last week on purpose. Her reasoning? To create more game-time opportunities to work on her chipping.
“I’ve been chipping kind of weird,” Kang said. “So I missed couple greens on purpose last week.”
If you’re thinking the method is a bit crazy, you’re not alone.
“I was talking about it with my coach and they thought it was the most absurd thing they had ever heard,” she said. “My friend David Lipsky was like, ‘You did what?’ I said, ‘You’ve never done that?’ [He said,] ‘No, nobody does that.'”
Kang’s method might be a little out there, but her reasoning is sound. There’s no telling how you’ll react under pressure, so the best way to prepare is by creating the situation yourself. She’s thinking unconventionally, but she’s thinking big-picture.
“I have to figure it out eventually, so I have to keep chipping in a tournament scenario when I have to make an up and down,” she said. “You can’t really recreate what you feel in a competition unless you’re in competition.
“I can’t recreate that unless it’s at an event,” she continued. “I’m just trying to mishit and fail and see if I can recover the best that I can.”
Kang explained she tried three times to miss the green last week. She was able to get up-and-down just once.
Her score might have suffered, but she still has the full support of her coach, Butch Harmon.
“[Butch] is always going to say like, ‘D, I trust the work that you put in,'” Kang said. “‘However you’re going to have to get it done, just get it done. You have a job to do.’ He’ll always say that, I have a job to do.”
We can’t endorse the method for a weekend hack, but given Kang is one of the best in the world, we’ll take a step back and give her some extra leeway.