Byron Nelson told me a story about a round in the Masters when he shot even par, hitting only a few greens in regulation. A friend, Eddie Lowery, a good amateur player who caddied for Francis Ouimet when he won the 1913 U.S. Open, asked Byron how he felt he played. Byron said he played terrible and was disgusted. Lowery said, “To the contrary, Byron, you played the finest round of golf I’ve ever seen.” 

Lowery’s reaction stuck in Byron’s mind. Golf is not about making perfect swings and hitting perfect shots. It boils down to where you save the most strokes, with the shots from 40 yards in and your putter. It’s about recovery. 

The most important thing to think about is rhythm, especially on the course. We all have a natural rhythm. Sometimes it’s off—we’re stiff, we drank too much coffee, we’re tired, whatever. People get quick in transition and lose their rhythm. So try slowing it down for a while. And remember that perfect swings and perfect shots are very, very rare, even at the tour level.


Gimme Shelter: Practice putting indoors on a smooth carpet when the weather’s bad. Putt to a spot, and work on your feel for distance. Go through your routine on every putt. 

Survival: I might hit one perfect shot per tournament, but it’s how I respond to the bad shots that turns a poor round into a good one.