Tiger’s Best Shots Of 2018: Birdie Bomb At Valspar

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again: best of the year list season is upon us. With fewer than 10 Tiger Tuesdays remaining before Christmas, we’re counting down Tiger Woods’ 10 best shots of the year and how you can implement his shot types into your own game with PGA Professional and SwingU instructor Aaron Ungvarsky’s help.

Tiger’s clutch long putting and knack for holing the big one coming down the stretch is part of what puts him in the conversation with Jack Nicklaus as ‘The Greatest.’

Both were able to block out the moment and consequence of the shot and focus solely on the putt at hand.

Although his putter wasn’t always red hot, Tiger mounted a comeback season that surprised all and one that was filled with long clutch putts, like what we saw during the final round of the Valspar Championship.

Woods’ father Earl taught Tiger the art of putting, leaving the mechanical side to the instructors. By implementing a disciplined visualization routine, Tiger learned to “putt to the picture.”

It’s a great insight into Tiger’s psyche, but what does it mean? Earl and Tiger never fully divulge the family secret, but it is easy to decode or at the very least, apply a similar principle to your own putting routine to help you hole long putts.

To progress to the visualization step of the putting routine, first make sure you have established a correct and athletic posture with your eyes over the ball or just inside of it. Your arms should hang tension free with the elbows bent and close to your ribs.

Setting up in this manner allows the putter to swing back and through on plane and arc slightly as the stroke gets longer; it also allows for the wrist joints to function properly and limits hand rotation- which alters the putter face. Once you square away a good setup you can now work on sinking long putts or two-putting from long range, both of which lowers your score!

NOTE: Putting is an awesome part of golf because it is so individualistic. There are so many ways to stroke a ball and make it go in, so a repeatable stroke is the key. The pointers above are for a more standard approach but we understand something different may work for you. Either way, as long as you can stroke the ball consistently and know where you want it to start is where it is actually going to start you are on track.

So what is the secret? It is as simple as being more visual instead of mechanical. Understand that visualizing your putt is different than green reading, and that is where we lose many of our students.

They say, “Yeah, I visualized the putt, it moves left-to-right.” Actually, you just read the putt! Visualizing your putt involves playing the stroke out in your mind, watching the ball roll towards the hole, tracing a line, and finally dropping into the cup.

To help the students we ask them to make practice strokes looking at the hole. While doing this, I will ask the student, “How fast is the ball rolling when it goes in, what side of the cup did the putt go in on?” This forces them to visualize the putt and better yet, they are picturing the putt going in, eliminating any negative thoughts.

If you can do this you now have a picture that you can putt to, just like Tiger. Watch any great putters on the green, they all will make strokes looking at the hole and they aren’t reading the green and most likely not thinking too much about speed.

No, they are watching the ball roll in the hole with each stroke, making the putt over and over before they actually execute the shot. This is a very strong mental tool you can add to your game and can help from any distance, but will absolutely hone you in on your longer putts!

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