Initially, we balked at the thought of ranking the best shots from the 2016-2017 season. Was it even possible? PGA Tour pros alone took more than 1.1 million strokes last year, and 35 different players notched victories. Surely, at least one award-worthy shot played a role in each of those wins. But we liked the idea, so to make the impossible possible, we systematically cut the candidate list to swings with highlight-reel appeal that also happened to unfold under the most pressure. Ultimately, our goal was to use the year’s top plays to help you improve your play. Our guess is that the pressure a Tour pro feels in a career-defining moment is the anxiety that looms over recreational players on almost every swing (at least it does for us). You learn a lot by studying the best, and glean even more by copying their finest moments. Here they are. The envelope, please…
Best Fairway Wood: Justin Thomas at the U.S. Open
Standing on the tee of the 667-yard, par-5 18th at Erin Hills during the third round of the U.S. Open, Justin Thomas, already with nine birdies on the day, needed an eagle on the last to post a major-record-tying score of 63. Thomas cranked his drive, leaving a hefty 299 yards to the pin. No problem. After surveying the landscape with his caddie, Jimmy Johnson, Thomas nuked a 3-wood to six feet, then canned the putt. A 300-yard 3-wood?! That’s right.
HOW YOU CAN HIT IT:
Let’s forget about matching the bomb J.T. hit at the Open and instead find a reliable way to catch fairway woods flush. To me, it’s all about ball position. Your swing always bottoms out, more or less, under your left armpit. With the ball positioned behind this point, the club is still descending as it nears impact—great for irons. Positioned ahead of your left armpit, the club will actually be ascending into impact—great for driving. Because you want to nip the ball cleanly off the turf with a wood, play the ball right where your swing reaches the bottom of its arc: under your left armpit. — Top 100 Teacher Mike Perpich
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 17, 2017