Welcome to Teachable Moments, GOLF’s weekly instruction column that will help you improve your game through the excellence and expertise of the Tour stars of the week. Class is now in session.
Stewart Cink’s winning formula
With his son Reagan on the bag, Stewart Cink won his second tournament of the season as he lapped the field at the RBC Heritage last week. Winning at the age of 47 on Tour is a rare thing. Winning twice is almost unheard of. The recipe for success comes down to a secret decision-making formula.
Cink explained that he and Reagan do their homework and come up with a game plan the day before that takes into account wind direction and hole locations. They want to “create a game plan where the hole captures the golf ball.” The pair grade the trouble surrounding the hole locations and assign a green, yellow or red light to the shot that dictates how they will attack the hole.
“It takes the decision making out of our hands,” Cink said. “It makes the day efficient. It’s just something nice to be able to rely on where the decision is already made by the system, and I don’t have to be under the pressure to try to make the decision when I’m feeling a lot of duress.”
With the decisions about how to attack the course made before the round even begins, all that’s left is for Cink to show up and execute.
“I’ve seen tournaments lost, [and] I’ve lost tournaments myself because I made a poor decision in a heightened moment,” he said. “With this system that we have going, we don’t have to make a lot of adjustments and the system takes care of itself. All we have to do, we’re left with executing and then reading putts, because we’re not going to put the ball in very many places where we shouldn’t be.”
Whatever the system is, it sure seems to be working.
A winning mindset for Lydia Ko
After a drought of nearly three years, Lydia Ko is back in the winner’s circle. Her win at the Lotte Championship was her 16th on the LPGA Tour and her first since teaming up with swing coach Sean Foley. According to Ko, Foley has helped her rediscover a positive mindset while on the course.
“I think when I’m having fun and being happy that’s when I play the best golf,” Ko said. “[Foley] puts all the rubbish thoughts that come in and just swoops it to the side for me.”
That positive mindset has been a gamechanger for Ko. Prior to working with Foley, she was in a rut in her career, but over the last 10 months she has nine top 10s in 16 starts, including her latest victory.
“I think in general when people are having fun, you’re able to perform at your best,” she said. “It’s kind of having that balance between having fun and being focused.”
Will Zalatoris’ “magic” move
Will Zalatoris has become one of the hottest names in the golf over the past two weeks as the world has been introduced to the budding star. One thing that sticks out in his game is his elite ball striking.
Although Zalatoris is only 24 years old, he’s already being mentioned among the best ball strikers on Tour. And his success comes from a unique move in his swing.
GOLF Top 100 Teacher Jonathan Yarwood broke down the move in a video on Twitter last week as he explains how Zalatoris gets his arms and hands into the proper position in the downswing after bringing them so high in the backswing.
The secret, Yarwood explains, is Zalatoris increases his forward bend during transition. This move creates room for his arms and hands to drop into that space and get into perfect position as he comes into impact.
“There’s an example of great athletes at work making compensations in their swing to make it work,” Yarwood said. “And boy does it work. What a breath of fresh air this guy is.”