PEOPLE TALK ABOUT my driver a lot. It’s fun to hit it far, and my driver does put me in a lot of good positions on the course. But golf isn’t just about how far you can hit it off the tee. Scoring and winning tournaments happens a lot closer to the green. About three seasons ago, I realized I needed to take my wedge-game practice a lot more seriously. Though my coach, Butch Harmon, will give you an analysis of my driver swing (pages 16-17), I want to talk about my short game. It has made me a complete player.
My World Golf Ranking has mostly been somewhere in the top 10. But I wanted to get better, and one area of the game where I could really improve was wedge play. Honestly, before a few years ago, I never practiced it. I mean, I’d hit wedge shots, but I never had a set practice plan.
The thing I needed to improve a lot was distance control. I’d never structured my practices with wedges in mind. I never really knew how far the ball would go with different swings in that 75-to-150-yard range. Literally, I would just guess. I was still fairly decent, but playing completely by feel.
That all changed when I bought a TrackMan and started charting my carry numbers. Once I knew how far I was hitting these clubs, I was able to come up with a system to improve my distance control. What I did was break it down to four shots for each of my wedges. I’ve got a half shot, a three-quarter shot and a stock full shot. The fourth I use only in special cases—I call it a max. For the max, you probably guessed, I just swing as hard as I can. For example, I’ll use it for a tucked pin, downwind. I know that if I s