“Everybody teaches a system. I just try to shoot where I’m aiming. I play by sight and feel not by technical thoughts.” ~ Fred Couples.
Freddie has always had the demeanor of someone un-fazed by life at the top of his sport. Great golf seems so natural to him. The characteristic pulling of the shirt, the slow, ambling walk between shots, his congenial manner – all convey a man that is grateful for the game and simply enjoys life. His swing is an extension of his personality – easy-going, relaxed and laid back. But what lies within in a fierce competitor that has made him one of the legends of the sport. We have so much to learn from Freddie.
Tempo and Rhythm
If the average amateur golfer could copy the smooth tempo and rhythm of Freddie Couples (or Ernie Els for that matter) they would see an improvement in their game.
This “effortless” power and graceful rhythm that Fred generates starts with his hands:
“The tighter you hold anything, the slower you’ll be. You really need to be soft and supple to create clubhead speed and power. When I’m at address you could walk up and take the club out of my hands easily. That’s how soft I hold it.”
To the average golfer wanting to crush the ball huge distances, this might sound counter-intuitive. They think that the tighter they hold the club and the harder they swing, the more power they will produce. In fact, as Freddie tells us, the exact opposite is true. Freddie “Boom Boom” Couples, even at 50, is one of the longest and best ball strikers on Tour. He attributes this to keeping his whole body (and most importantly, his hands) relaxed and maintaining good balance.
“When I reach impact, my right hand feels like it’s almost off the club, which gives me a more powerful hit through the ball than if I was “choking” the grip. I wouldn’t necessarily teach anyone to do that, but it’s the right kind of feel.”
Remember the phrase “light is right” next time you are out there. When it comes to your grip pressure, the looser the hands, the better rhythm, power and ball striking you will achieve.
“I pull up my sleeves, shrug my shoulders and try to get them relaxed and then I try to remember the best shot I’ve hit in my life with whatever club I’ve got in my hand.” – Fred Couples
On discussing his on-going success at the Masters, he puts it down to a deeper understanding of the “art” of putting and green reading:
“If you can’t read a putt you don’t have much chance…I see the line from behind the ball and then hope to see the same line when I get over the ball. When I do, I putt well.”
Putting is probably the most important factor in winning at Augusta. Under pressure, staying relaxed and centered over the ball throughout the stroke is the key, especially on short putts.
“The worst thing you can do is move your body or head on a two-footer because it takes almost nothing to open or close the club face just a tiny bit, which will lead to a miss.”