Pete Cowen: Mastering Augusta: how the major names plan to dodge the dogwoods
The coach to world No 2 Lee Westwood reveals his insider's guide to tackling the difficult National course
Thursday 07 April 2011
Use the slopes
That's the whole thing about Augusta – using the slopes. Let's take the 10th. You need to fly it that little bit further to make sure you hit the downslope to get down to the bottom of it. It's the same on the ninth. It makes the course so much easier if you use the slopes properly. People always go on about the need to draw the ball here. It's not the case. Jack Nicklaus won six Masters with a fade. Yeah, he could have drawn it if he wanted to. But he knew it was all about finding those slopes and getting it in the right places.
Tip for the amateur How do the pros fly the ball that little bit further? They simply get a little leverage in their swing by getting a little bit more stretch in the body. This gives you a little bit more height in the flight. We call it "over flight" and this is what the new technology allows. High launch and low spin makes the game so much easier.
Chips with everything
It's hardly a secret that you need to chip your lights out here. It's all about seeing the shot, knowing what this slope will do, how that slope over there might affect the ball, knowing where to land it, having the feel to realise how strongly or softly you need to hit it. If you watch the good players around Augusta they are the ones who use the slopes on the greens more efficiently than anyone else. Phil Mickelson is the perfect example. He is aware of the nuances of every green out there.
Tip for the amateur There's no hard and fast rule about being a good chipper. The bump and run, the flop shot... whichever way you see it and feel it. The visualisation is as important as the technique. Imagine the shot in your mind first. I'm going to land it there and the ball's going to do this. Have a plan.
The one-bounce check
It's the shot you need at Augusta. They talk of the necessary high ball-flight and that's true, but what you don't want is massive backspin on it. Backspin is too difficult to control. So what they're after is holding spin – one bounce and then check. Lee [Westwood] can do this up to a five-iron and that's why he can do well round here. This ability means he can hold the ball on the right level on the greens. It's so important to be on the right level. Players like Lee and Mickelson will be practising this for weeks in advance. They are the lucky ones. Not all the pros here can do this, not with some of the middle irons anyway.
Tip for the amateur It's all about the pressure you apply to the iron and, in truth, is beyond the capabilities of all but the very best amateurs. I will say this. Be careful what you wish for as backspin might look good but it is hard to control.
For more information about the coach of Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Henrik Stenson and his golf academies log on to www.petecowen.com
Amen Corner: Kaymer walks you through the turn at Augusta
Martin Kaymer, the world No 1, gives his guide to conquering golf's most famous three-hole stretch:
11th White Dogwood: 505 yards, par four
This is a very long hole, only five yards shorter than the par five 13th, and you have to play it smart with the lake on the left of the green claiming lots of balls. But you have to be brave as well, and take on the flag even when it is on the left of the green. It is so easy to bail out to the right and leave yourself a chip and putt, but I prefer the more aggressive play. Birdies here are like gold dust.
12th Golden Bell: 155 yards, par three
For such a short hole, usually just a flick with an eight or nine iron, it is amazing how many balls end up in the water in front of the green. The reason is simple. The wind always seems to be swirling around, and dying or gusting on that part of the course, so there is a lot of guesswork in the tee shot. You do not want to be long because it is a scary chip from the bushes towards the water, which is why a lot of balls come up short.
13th Azalea: 510 yards, par five
One of the must-birdie holes on the back nine, and you see a lot of eagles here too, so it provides a lot of drama, especially on the final day. But it is no pushover. Rae's Creek runs around the front of the green, and if you do not hit a perfect drive and are on the limit of going for it in two, it is a dangerous shot. If you can hit it right to left off the tee you can cut a big chunk off the yardage and leave yourself a low-iron approach, and that is a shot I have been working on a lot.
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