April 15, 2014
By Mark Immelman, PGATOUR.COM
- Bubba Watson displayed some special shot-making and earned his second Green Jacket. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
“A tradition unlike any other” and a rite of spring, the Masters is, in my opinion, a tournament without a peer. Every year it captures the imagination of the golfing public around the globe and, almost incredibly and without fail, it manages to deliver gripping excitement and riveting drama as the players navigate their way around the Alister Mackenzie masterpiece.
Augusta National also represents a master-class in golf course architecture. Mackenzie and Bob Jones crafted a thoughtful and beautiful layout around the rolling slopes on tract of land that seems as if God had intended it to be a golf course from the beginning of time.
Beautiful and beguiling, Augusta National allows the competitors to swing freely off the tee as some of the landing areas are wider than most typical major championship layouts. From there, however, the challenges amplify. Jones believed that you do not make a course more challenging by making it longer, you do so by placing an emphasis on the quality of the approach shot and the shots that come directly thereafter. Consider his commentary from April 1959 (Courtesy SI Vault):
FINE SHOTS EARN BIRDIES
We are quite willing to have low scores made during the tournament. It is not our intention to rig the golf course so as to make it tricky. It is our feeling that there is something wrong with a golf course which will not yield a score in the 60s to a player who has played well enough to deserve it.
On the other hand, we do not believe that birdies should be made too easily. We think that to play two good shots to a par-4 hole and then to hole a 10-foot putt on a dead-level green is not enough. If the player is to beat par, we should like to ask him to hit a truly fine second shot right up against the flag or to hole a putt of more than a little difficulty.
This year Bubba Watson showed off "Bubba Golf" at its finest. He ripped the driver off most tees leaving himself short clubs into the demanding targets. He smashed a few notable tee-balls in the final round as well – I think back on Nos. 3, 8, 9 especially but the tee shot that got everyone’s attention was the 360-plus yard high fade he delivered off the par-5 13th. It was a shot that we can learn something from as the power fade is a great weapon to have in ones arsenal:
Open to the arc, closed to the target line: A key to hitting a powerful fade is the marrying of the clubface to its swing arc and the understanding of the clubface to target-line relationship. Too many golfers (right-handers) realize that the clubface needs to be open to fade the ball but they deliver a strike that has the clubface open to its swing arc as well, as open to (pointing to the right of) the target line. This scenario starts the fade too far to the right and it will also seriously lack power.
Remember always that the ball’s trajectory is a largely function of the clubface’s alignment. In other words, if the face is pointing to the right of the target line, the ball will start to the right and then probably fade weakly further to the right if the player is making a fade-shaped swing arc (to the left).
It is very important in hitting the power-fade to deliver a clubface that looks a little left of the target line but is still open on its swinging arc if you want to be on-point and powerful with your fade.
You can facilitate this by paying particular attention to body alignment and clubface aim at address. Bubba aligns his body well to the right when he sets up to deliver his cut-shot. As he does so his clubface is a smidgeon open in relation to his body but it is still marginally closed in relation to his target line. From there he just lets rip knowing that if he completes his backswing (which helps to ensure that his downswing body pivot does not out-run his arms which can result in the face being too open at impact) he is likely to bomb his power-fade.