Big Play With Mitchell Spearman

May 29, 2005

WHO: Paula Creamer

WHAT: 35-yard pitch to set up the winning 17-foot birdie putt

WHERE: Par-5 18th at Wykagyl

WHEN: Final round of the Sybase Classic

WHY: Creamer has a wise head on young shoulders. With the title on the line, the 18-year-old made two smart choices that led to victory: conservatively pitching to a spot below the hole, ensuring an uphill putt; and stroking the putt so it would barely reach the hole, taking a testy downhill comebacker out of the equation.

Most amateurs make the critical mistake of trying to hit a great shot without thinking of all the consequences. Pros, however, approach every shot with one thing in mind: the next shot. It is especially vital to plan ahead around the greens. Get greedy and try to stiff a pitch, and you're likely to end up on the wrong side of the hole with a very hard putt. A conservative play such as Creamer's at 18 (left) might leave you with a longer putt, but a 15-footer uphill is often a lot easier than a three-footer downhill.

Spearman teaches at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y., and is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher.

MITCHELL'S TIP

Think Ahead Before You Hit

... AND ANOTHER THING

"Carton House, the Colin Montgomerie--designed layout that hosted the Irish Open, is a cross between Muirfield and Troon, and the best new course I've seen in years."

COLOR PHOTOCOURTESY OF ESPN (CREAMER, TOP) COLOR PHOTOERICK W. RASCO (SPEARMAN) COLOR ILLUSTRATIONGEORGE LUCAS (ILLUSTRATION)Wykagyl's18th green

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)