Perhaps no golfer embraced the Olympics more than gold-medalist Justin Rose of Great Britain, who built his 2016 schedule to give the Games in Rio top priority. A BBC story by Iain Cain related just how important the Olympic victory meant to him and his family. According to the story, after completing victory, the champion shared a special phone call with his seven year old son, Leo, who shed tears of joy over his dad’s triumph.
“That’s never happened before,” Rose revealed. His young son could grasp how special this moment was because the Games provided clarity to the scale of his father’s sporting achievement.
“This has resonated far wider than my US Open win,” admitted Rose who landed his sole major to date at Merion in 2013. The golfer says he has received congratulatory messages from “the darkest recesses” of his phone’s contacts book.
Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson were tied for the lead at 15-under as the golfers headed to the tee for the final hole in Rio. Stenson could do no better than bogey while Rose made birdie to capture the gold by two strokes. “That felt better than anything I’ve ever won,” said Rose, “It was the best tournament I’ve ever done. Hopefully we’ve shown Brazil what golf is about. I’m glad it was close. Not for my nerves, for golf.”
Rose knows the importance of making birdies on tour, “but for recreational golfers, birdies are like gold”, he says. “I get it – most of my friends are mid-handicappers and I see what birdies do for their games…they make the game a lot more fun.”
Rose’s formula for making birdies favors accuracy over distance. He says,”I know how to birdie holes, so I’ll let you in on a little secret: You can’t even attempt to make birdie if you don’t hit greens. And it’s difficult to hit greens if you don’t hit fairways.”
To hit more fairways off the tee Rose advises taking the club back slowly and smoothly, “If you’re smooth and solid at the top, you’ll probably be smooth and solid at the bottom – which is where it counts.” Then he emphasizes, “Make sure to swing all the way through the ball.” Rose envisions a second ball a few inches in front of the real ball, then he says, “I try to “hit” both. This ensures I swing beyond the impact point so that the face continues to be square. For extra distance, reach top speed at the second ball. This way you’re always accelerating through the hitting zone.”
Tour players only stand about a 15% chance of making birdie or better from off the fairway, but hit the green in regulation greater than 75% of the time from a fairway lie. By hitting the fairway off the tee, you’ll improve your chances for birdie significantly and more golden moments of your own.