What I Learned Watching the Pros

I traveled to Williamsburg a few weeks ago for the LPGA’s Kingsmill Championship. Now, if you’ve ever gone to a golf tournament, even to an avid golf enthusiast like me, they can be pretty boring if you don’t have a plan. You can follow your favorite golfer through her round if you’ve got your running shoes on and you’re in excellent shape. You can hang out at one hole and watching dozens of golfers hit into the green or off the tee. Of you can do what I do. I like watching the pros practice. I learn from their routine and I hope to pick up some pointers just by observing.

This tournament I was lucky to watch Lexi Thompson, Suzann Pettersen, and Joanna Klatten on the range. They each go about practice and warm up in a different way but there’s much to be learned from them all. Here’s what I learned.

From Lexi: swing for the fences or give it all you’ve got. She and other LPGA players have swings built for speed. Low and slow on the takeaway. Long arc. High hands. On top of the ball. And then let it all go. She clobbers the ball. On her toes — there’s not a part of her that’s not swinging into the back of the ball. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Take a look at Laura Davies circa 1995. She’s on her toes at impact, too. Do what you can to get as much speed out of your swing as you can.

From Suzann Pettersen: I watched her hit little half swing sand wedges at a target around 75 yards away. If there was a laundry basket out there, she’d be in it 80% of the shots. But, she was not concerned about that. She was making the same swing over and over again. Maybe 20 times. Then she increased speed to around 80 yards. Another 5 shots. 85 yards. 90. She then started worrying about where the ball went. She has a literal definition of “warming up.”

From Joanna Klatten: Hit the ball straight. This is a lady that is second in driving distance on tour. But she also hits about 9 fairways a round. That doesn’t sound like a lot from a tour pro but when you watch how straight and far she hits the ball, it’s impressive. I watched her hit about 20 drives and each one was on a frozen rope straight as an arrow. While she hits the hell out of the ball, she makes every effort to put the ball in play. And her swing shows it. Again, it’s not the textbook Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, boring swing of the PGA tour. But it gets the job done. And when you hit the ball straight, you don’t have to hit fairways. You just can hit them.

Of course, there are many terrific female golfers out there that you can learn from. My favorite teaching coach, Anya Alvarez, offers some terrific insight and tips through social media. Check out the LPGA’s twitter list of players. It’s worth subscribing to.