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On the Range, Practice the Toughest Shots You Will Face on the Course

February 26, 2024

When I warm up before a competitive round, I do what I believe Ben Hogan did before he played: I practice the toughest shot or shots I think I will face on the course that day. 

At the Masters, for example, I usually practice the shot I’ll have on the 230-yard fourth hole, which can be the hardest hole on the scorecard. You don’t want to be short or long, and I’ve found over the years that when I keep the ball below the trees behind the green, the wind won’t affect it as much. The trajectory of the shot is critical. 

After stretching, I hit a couple of shorter irons on the range. Then I tee up a 3- or 4-iron and hit it until I’m satisfied with my contact and ball flight. I normally hit a draw on the fourth, because the left side of the green is the safe side. 

The other key shot on the front nine at Augusta is the approach into No. 5, which typically calls for a fade or a straight shot—rarely a draw—so I practice hitting fades with a 4-iron on the range. 

If you practice the difficult shots you’ll face on the course that day, you can develop positive feedback to draw on when you face the real thing.