Even a commonsense swing tip can play havoc, as tour pros in contention learn

Pressure situations jack up the nerves and lead to quick swings. That’s an accepted truth. Taking steps to avoid tension is important, but swing thoughts like “Take it back slow” and “Don’t get quick” can be overdone. Your natural swing tempo is like your thumbprint—it’s there for life and it provides the glue for everything else. When I was overhauling my swing and changing virtually every element of it, tempo was the one constant. I would keep it in mind as much as possible.

The bottom line is, you can swing at too slow a tempo just as you can swing too fast. I’ve been told that’s what happened to Greg Norman on Sunday of the 1996 Masters. Apparently it’s been determined by studying digital video that his tempo slowed down too much. Someone put his swing sequence from that day, address to backswing, against other sequences of him in competition, and showed in frames per second that he was moving slower to the top. And that’s what threw him off and led to the missed shots.

When you face a pressure situation and you’re basically hitting the ball solidly, watch out for that well-meaning person who comes up to you before the round and tells you to keep it slow or not to get quick. You’re pretty vulnerable at that point, and it’s easy for someone to sow a seed. You’ll notice on Tour that the higher up the leaderboard a guy is on Sunday, the farther down the range line he goes, away from everybody and their friendly suggestions.