At just over 7300 yards, you’d think that The Old Course at St. Andrews gives the advantage to the long hitting golfer. On the other hand, Zach Johnson has never been known for his long driving. Zach Johnson, the new Open Champion, is also a former Masters Champion, winner of another championship that is supposed to favor the big hitter.

How is Zach Johnson, short hitter, able to defeat Dustin Johnson, and Bubba Watson, and all those big blasters? Even on courses which favor long hitters? Zach understands that his game is not the same as those long hitters’.  So he uses his head to take advantage of his talents, which are the short shots…pitches, chips, and putts. Zach knows that he can’t compete for long driving success, so he uses his assets by driving shorter, and keeping his ball in the fairway.

Many of the par 5s are reached in two by the long hitters, while Johnson can’t do that at some of those holes and must lay up short and play his third shot onto the green. But he practices his pitches and chips, learning how to hit them close to the hole for one-putt birdies.

Some dogleg holes you see Tiger Woods or Bubba Watson blast drives high over the trees and cut the dogleg, while Zach, because of his lack of distance, has to play the fairway dogleg. But, for his second shots, he knows he’ll be hitting from fairway, while the long hitters are creating a blind shot for themselves.

What I’m saying is that Zach Johnson is a good example that there is more than one way to play the game. It’s nice if you can be a blaster, able to clear big hazards with a single bound. But if you’re not, you can still be a great champion, like Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Zach Johnson. There’s more than one way to play the game.

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