In capturing his fifth career victory in the Northern Trust Open, Bubba Watson not only mastered the tricky greens and fairways of historic Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., but he did so in typical Bubba style - by going long off the tee.
For the second time in his career, Watson not only led the field in driving distance (318.5 yards), but ranked inside the top-10 in driving accuracy - an essential element to winning at Riviera, which features thick, grabby kikuyu rough that acts like barbed wire to any stray shots.
And you don't need to look far to see how Watson did it. He is the first PGA TOUR pro featured in Golf Magazine's newest instruction book - PLAY LIKE A PRO (Time Home Entertainment Inc., 2013; $29.95, Hardcover). In PLAY LIKE A PRO, Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers - the nation's most elite group of golf instructors - analyze the techniques and moves of the game's elite and make them accessible to the average player.
Watson's chief weapon is swing speed, which allows him to launch howitzer-like drives that can overpower a golf course, which is what Watson did at Riviera. He was 15-under-par over his last 43 holes, played the last 39 holes without a bogey and went 64-64 on the weekend.
This is nothing new for Watson. He was either first or second in driving distance on the PGA TOUR every year from 2007 to 2012 and in 2012, he generated 10 percent more swing speed than the average Tour player. In PLAY LIKE A PRO, Watson's ability to generate that swing speed is broken down and analyzed by several Top 100 Teachers. Practice drills that reinforce and build swing speed are also included.
"Bubba swings fast, but he doesn't do it by simply moving his body parts faster. He creates a foundation for speed by tracing the widest swing arc possible … Bubba sets his big swing in motion by taking the club away with everything but his hands," writes Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs of Woodley Lakes G.C. in Van Nuys, Calif. "A wide, body-driven backswing like this can produce a great deal of power without any extra effort."
Riggs and Scott Munroe of Nantucket G.C. in Siansconset, Mass. both prescribe tips that reinforce the legs as a key source of increased swing speed.
"In Brady and Scott's tips, you see a perfect breakdown of how Bubba generates all that swing speed," said David DeNunzio, Golf Magazine's managing editor for instruction. "And Bubba himself explains how he does it by telling readers that to get to this point, 'practice your sequence - lower body, arms, then clubhead - rather than trying to generate as much speed as possible.'"
GOLF MAGAZINE: PLAY LIKE A PRO
By GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Teachers
Edited and Introduction by David DeNunzio, Managing Editor-Instruction, Golf Magazine
Publisher: Time Home Entertainment Inc.
Publication date: October 22, 2013
$29.95, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-60320-239-8
About the Authors:
GOLF MAGAZINE, one of the most widely read golf publications in the world, presents award-winning features and articles every month to help golfers stay on top of their game. Golf.com provides up-to-the-minute news from the professional tours, live scoring, and course and equipment ratings that can't be found anywhere else. Its video instruction library features hundreds of score-saving tips and drills from the Top 100 Teachers in America.
THE TOP 100 TEACHERS IN AMERICA, Golf Magazine's team of instruction professionals, are recognized as the best coaches in the game. There are more than 28,000 PGA of America members, and the magazine selects only the 100 most elite among them to help golfers lower their scores, improve their swing, hammer the ball longer and putt lights-out. For more information, visit golf.com/instruction.
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