Sergio “El Nino” Garcia needs no introduction. This Spanish golfing ace has a total of 33 combined European Tour and PGA Tour wins under his belt and is renowned for his accuracy on the course and one of the strongest iron plays in the game.
Garcia has even competed in the Olympic Games in 2016 when golf was reintroduced to the Rio Summer Games for the first time since 1904. That’s a 112-year absence! Until 2017, he was known as the greatest player never to win a Major, but all that changed when he broke through and secured a victory at that year’s Masters Tournament.
With a professional career of almost 20 years behind him, complete with all the highs and lows that such an elite sporting career brings, Garcia is the ultimate golf exponent, inspiring players of all levels and ages across the world.
Here are a few of his foolproof secrets to golfing success.
Feeling Not Guessing
When it comes to his frankly unmatched ball-striking abilities, Garcia is all about keeping things as simple as possible. Referring to himself as a “feel player,” he tries not to get too caught up in overanalyzing the mechanics of swings and shots, preferring instead to focus on targets and make the most confident swings possible. Of course, this is simple for a professional of his level to say, but even newcomers to the game will benefit from developing a higher level of self-awareness on the course.
If you look at any photo or video of El Nino mid-game, you’ll notice immediately how tall his posture is no matter how many hours he’s been out on course. Even though he’s an average-sized player, Garcia covers some impressive distances with his 4-iron.
His top tip for posture is to “be athletic, never rigid…a lot of golfers hunch and really tense up, which restricts the motion.” Garcia’s famous arm swing combined with a powerful torque that he generates by maintaining an upright and dynamic posture acts like an engine, providing the momentum and control needed to drive through those long shots.
Maximize Your Drivers
That’s especially useful for golfing amateurs, but anybody who uses a driver will want to follow Garcia’s advice for making the most out of this tool. He believes that alignment sticks can be a “great way to ensure your set-up position is correct;” however, you should always set your club first before taking your stance — “build your stance around it.”
To nail those long, accurate and powerful drives for which Garcia is famous, try to create a “power lag in your downswing.” For a right-handed player, load your weight onto your right leg, then release that energy by driving through your leg, allowing your hips, shoulders then arms to follow the movement through (left-handed players can follow this advice, too; load up your left leg to swing to the right).
Find a Hobby That You Love
No matter what level of golfer you are, it’s critical to find something to do away from the golf course. Hobbies offer the chance of downtime, and if it’s something that you enjoy doing, you’ll get double the benefit.
Few people know that Garcia is an avid poker fan, often competing in live tournaments, preferring their competitive atmosphere over online variations of the game. He even spent time “winding down” from the 2016 Olympic Games Rio by participating in the European Poker Tour Barcelona, an event in which he’s a regular.
For Garcia, poker provides the perfect opportunity to switch off from the stresses of playing golf as a professional athlete while still making good use of his strategic nature. He also enjoyed playing amateur tennis and football in the past; however, as he states: “getting older makes it tougher to compete,” so this classic card game ensures that his brain stays sharp while his body gets a chance to recover.
Even though these tips may not give all you amateur players a green jacket overnight, they’ll add an extra dimension to your game. After all, if anyone knows how to turn a passable swing into a force to be reckoned with, it’s Sergio Garcia.