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Saturday, June 14, 2014

How Martin Kaymer Mastered His Driver

Martin KaymerAlan Shipnuck has done an article over at about how Martin Kaymer became the player he is. Mostly it talks about how he has performed in the past, and how that foreshadowed the way he closes out rounds and tournaments now.

But the third paragraph includes an interesting note about how Martin learned to control one of the clubs that really distinguishes him from the rest of the pack -- namely, the driver:
Kaymer grew up in Dusseldorf playing the Mettmann Golf Club, which was close enough to home that he and his older brother, Philip, would occasionally ride their bikes to the course. Almost from the beginning, their father, Horst, compelled the boys to play from the tips on a 6,700-yard course, and he forbade the use of a tee even when they were wielding drivers. “He wanted to make it more challenging for us, so when we were allowed to use tees in tournaments hitting the driver would seem easy,” says Martin.
Although this goes against the advice of most instructors and the top players like Jack Nicklaus, who say you should always use a tee if you can, there's a certain logic about it. If your practice is more difficult than what you do in your games, you should find it easier to get the job done during a game. If you can hit a driver off the deck in practice, hitting it off a tee during a match should seem very easy indeed!

While you probably wouldn't want to do it all the time, it might be worthwhile to try hitting a few drivers off the deck when you're at the range.  If you do, just remember to position the ball where you would for a fairway wood -- after all, you want to hit down on the ball to get it up in the air. You don't want to swing up when the ball isn't on a tee!

However, I have to include this disclaimer: Practicing this way is no guarantee that you'll shoot back-to-back 65s like Martin did on Thursday and Friday. I just want to make that clear...


  1. The first and last thing I practice are hybrids off the deck

  2. Similar swing

  3. There is a very interesting book called Bounce - the Myth of Talent by Matthew Syed. In it he mentions that when elite sportspeople and musicians practice they attempt to make things more difficult for themselves as they will not learn or improve from practising the things they can already do well. Tiger has obviously practiced playing left-handed as his lefty swing is nearly as good as his right.

    I remember in school we played soccer with a tennis ball (we weren't allowed a proper ball as rugby and field hockey were the only sports allowed) and used field hockey goals which are much smaller as well. The outcome? Everything was much easier when we played with a full-size ball and goals. A similar model is used in the soccer academies in Brazil and everyone knows how good their national team is.

    When at the practice range one should try to hit shots from divots, bare lies, plugged, thick rough, downhill, sidehill, etc. to ramp up the difficulty.

  4. If you're lucky enough to have a practice range where you can do more than hit standard shots off a mat, that is. ;-)

  5. Exactly. I think Johnny Miller said it best when he said the only way you can learn to play the awkward shots is by playing not range work. They just can't be simulated from a mat.