• January 15, 2016

#TomsTips: Steady Your Head

#TomsTips: Steady Your Head

#TomsTips: Steady Your Head 760 508 Tom Watson

This thought will help your arms swing freely.

I was tied with Jack Nicklaus for the lead on the 16th hole on Sunday in the 1977 Masters and was so nervous I was almost jumping out of my skin. The flagstick on the par 3 was back-left, and I chose a 5-iron rather than a 6-iron. I knew it might be a little too much club, so I took something off of it.

As I swung, I had one thought: Keep your head still and swing around it. A stable head (it swivels some) helps you stay in balance and lets your arms swing freely.

I hit the shot flush, right at the flag. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was good, even though I couldn’t see where it landed. It ended up about 15 feet behind the hole.

When I hit that shot, the pressure just drained out of my body. It was an amazing sensation. I two-putted for par, then birdied 17 and parred 18 feeling very little pressure. I won by two strokes when Jack bogeyed 18.

My 20-foot birdie putt on 17 got most of the attention because the roar distracted Jack in the 18th fairway and caused him to change his mind. But keeping my head still on 16 was crucial to setting me up for my first green jacket.

Thoughts from Tom

When I think back to my decision to play a 5-iron on the 16th that day at Augusta instead of a 6-iron, it reminds me that underclubbing is an all-too-common problem among weekend golfers.

Think about taking more club when the air is damp, when there’s a strong headwind, or when shooting at a raised green. If these conditions are combined, you probably need even more club.

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