Focus on your fundamentals, like Adam Scott at the Honda Classic

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Honda Classic winner Adam Scott led the field in greens in regulation.
By Mark Aumann

Published: Monday, February 29, 2016 | 3:20 p.m.

For all the talk about Adam Scott's switch to a more conventional putting method, PGA Teaching Professional Christian Czaja said it was more Scott's ability to keep the ball in play on PGA National's tight fairways and small greens that keyed his Honda Classic victory.

That's all because of Scott's ability to consistently repeat his grip, stance and posture on every shot. And it comes from practicing with a coach who can point out inconsistencies and possible flaws before they wreck your swing.

Working on your fundamentals is a habit more amateurs need to take to heart, said Czaja, golf instructor at the Boca West Club in Boca Raton, Fla. Even the best Tour players go back to the basics to make sure their muscle memory is there under pressure, like what Scott faced Sunday on a shotmaker's course designed by one of the greatest shotmakers in history, Jack Nicklaus.

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"His accuracy was phenomenal," Czaja said of the Honda Classic winner. "He hit a lot of fairways and was No. 1 in greens in regulation. So his iron game was fantastic.

"The thing I noticed is the greens at PGA National are not very large, and they played two of the par-5s as par-4s, so you're hitting into very small targets there. But Adam Scott was spot-on with his iron play and hit more greens than anyone. That was the key."

The only misstep Scott had all weekend was the quadruple-bogey 7 he took Saturday at the 15th. But Scott immediately let that bad hole slip from his mind. Instead, he went back to concentrating on what was working -- putting the ball in play and giving himself good looks on the green.

"So what has he done to become such a great ball striker? He works with his coach and has for years, to stay on track," Czaja said. "I think that's something a lot of amateurs can learn from -- finding a coach that communicates well with you. A lot of amateurs will listen to their friends, they'll listen to other amateurs, and they get lost. They don't stay on track and work on the fundamentals.

"When I look at Adam Scott's game, I see perfect fundamentals. Perfect grip, perfect swing. Staying focused on the fundamentals is something amateurs need to do as a rule."

PRE-SHOT ROUTINE: Check your lie, wind, target every time

Czaja said that's especially important for junior golfers, because it's easier to eliminate bad habits early on than to have to relearn at a later age.

"Get the fundamentals down first," he said. "What I focus on are the pre-swing fundamentals: the grip, the stance and the posture. So many mistakes in golf can be traced back to flaws before the player even swings. With the top juniors and collegiate players, I always go over the pre-swing fundamentals. They're so important at every level. They can't be overlooked."

As far as Scott's putting, Czaja noticed that attention to the fundamentals carried over to Scott's work on the greens as well.

"Going back to the conventional method, he obviously had to work hard," Czaja said. "But I love how he just walks up to the ball and doesn't waste any time before he putts. When he gets over the ball, he pulls the trigger. The great putters, they take a look or two and just go."

Pay attention to better golfers and how they maintain a strict pre-shot routine, Czaja said. 

"When I look at really good Tour players, I see sound grips, I see really great posture," he said. "I stress that with students at the time. Never overlook the basics."

Christian Czaja is a PGA Instructor at Boca West Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Czaja was the 2010 PGA Teacher of the Year in the South Florida section. Christian can be reached at (561) 207-7600 for lessons or through his website



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