/
Close
Newsletters  | Mobile

No-Swing Practice

Padraig Harrington injuring his wrist before the 2008 Open at Birkdale was remarkably similar to something that happened to me at a Birkdale Open (except unlike Padraig, I didn’t go on to win the tournament).

It was 1998, the year Mark O’Meara won. A few days before play began, I did some damage to a tendon in my right elbow. I was hitting balls on the range, made a swing and knew something was wrong. It wasn’t terribly painful; it was just a complete loss of strength. Before I knew it the doctors had my arm in a cast—but they promised it would heal quickly.

So there it was, time to play practice rounds and I wasn’t allowed to swing a club. I went out on the links anyway, bringing my caddie, my putter and a few balls. I would walk up to each tee, look the hole over and visualize how I wanted to hit my drive. Then I’d walk down the fairway, visualizing shots from various locations. When I got around the green, I would visualize recovery shots. Then I would hold the putter with one hand and roll putts all around the green.

It was an odd experience, for two reasons. One is that I had just as big a gallery following me as I would expect for a normal practice round. I actually felt a little bad about it. Watching someone visualize shots instead of hitting them has to be pretty dull. “Sorry, I’m just looking,” I would say when I got up to the tee, like you would say in an antiques shop.

The other reason it was odd is that it provided a very thorough preparation. After a while I didn’t mind not being able to swing the club. Walking, visualizing and rolling putts is sometimes all you need. Padraig may have discovered that for himself at Birkdale.

Advertisement

Sign Up


Connect With Travel + Leisure
  • Travel+Leisure
  • Tablet
  • Available devices

Already a subscriber?
Get FREE ACCESS to the digital edition


Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Marketplace