Jack Nicklaus Golf Tip: Prepare for Longer Courses

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Illustration by Jim McQueen

There are mental as well as physical hurdles to overcome in playing courses longer than you are used to, and there are ways to practice to counter both.

Years ago, when preparing for a big layout, I would play Scioto, my home course in Columbus, Ohio, by hitting all the approach shots off an amateur friend’s drive. This forced me to play a lot of longer iron shots than I normally would have, frequently from challenging angles. I recall once doing this with a friend who hit only three fairways. It wasn’t much practice for me, but I shot maybe the best 79 of my life!

If you can’t find a cooperative friend, hit normal tee shots, but then drop a ball 50 yards back from where the good ones finished and play approaches from there.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that more practice with long-irons on the driving range alone will ready you for a bigger course. The more you have accustomed yourself to hitting farther for real—into actual greens—the better you will meet the added physical and mental challenges.

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Next week’s topic: Stay with Fundamentals, Regardless of Height
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