AT CLUB level, a long, pull-hook wide of its target can end medal hopes for another month. At European Tour level it can make the difference between working over the weekend or ending up without pay for the week.
Yorkshire’s tour rookie Matt Fitzpatrick recognised in the summer that just such a shot was the most inhibitive flaw in his game.
He worked hard to move from drawing the ball to hitting it with a controlled fade and the fruits of his labours have been impressive.
Third-place finishes in the Italian Open and Czech Masters, runner-up spot in the European Masters – and then a victory worth £500,000 in the British Masters at Woburn last weekend.
“Switzerland was the start of it really,” recounts Fitzpatrick, who placed second there behind fellow Sheffielder Danny Willett.
“I started hitting a fade, being a little bit more under control with the irons and stuff.
“At the start of the year my bad shot was a flat, long pull going massively long and left.
“They were so destructive – there was no flight on it and it was costing me a lot of shots.
“I went away to America and Morocco for a few weeks. I had a lot of stuff to work on and did a lot of practice there and during the next few months I got it more under control.
“I’ve tried to be a bit more neutral rather than just consistently drawing the ball and it seemed to work out all right.”
Hasn’t it just? So much so that he has far exceeded his aims going into his first full season as a touring professional, which involved retaining his playing rights.
“Just to keep my card was the main goal,” he says. “Just to do that first but then, deep down in the back of my mind, the thought was to try to qualify for the Race to Dubai (which he has done so, comfortaby).
“But I have exceeded that by quite a bit.”
Asked if he considered winning in his first season he replies; “No, not at all. This has come way faster than I ever thought it would.”
While Fitzpatrick has worked on controlling the flight of his shots, controlling his nerves seems to come naturally.
His outward demeanour gives an impression of calm, and he says: “I feel like I am fairly cool.
“I loved being in contention and I have just tried to enjoy it.
“In the Czech Republic I probably got a little bit stressed out when I should just have enjoyed it, which is why I probably didn’t finish right up there challenging a bit more really.”
As well as being a champion, Fitzpatrick also holds the accolade of being one of the fastest players on tour, so much so that Sky Sports were caught napping during the third round when he had fired an approach shot towards a green while cameras were still lingering on a playing partner’s reaction to his own effort.
He laughs at the revelation and says: “I really hate slow play, I just think it’s a nightmare.
“I don’t see the point – well, I do see the point, but if you’re going to take forever then obviously it brings doubt into your mind.
“If that’s you and you have to take all this time to hit the perfect shot then I can kind of understand it, but if you do that then please walk faster between shots.”
He has put emphasis on taking more time on the greens, commenting: “That’s something me and my caddie have done recently, be a little bit slower over putting.
“That is just the way it has happened, but in terms of everything else it’s just pick the club, two practice swings then go.”
Fitzpatrick credits people such as former US Open champion Justin Rose for helping him make a smooth transition from world No 1 amateur into the paid ranks.
“Everyone has been great to me and I was really lucky playing as an amateur in the majors, playing with the best players in the world, and I managed to pick their brains a lot,” he says.
As noted elsewhere on this site, Fitzpatrick acknowledges his huge debt to his parents, Russell and Sue.
As for technique, here he heaps praise on coaches Mike Walker and Pete Cowen.
“I put all of the success I’ve enjoyed so far down to my Mum and Dad and to Mike Walker and Pete Cowen,” he says.
“Particularly Mike. He has been my coach since I was 14 or 15 and my view is I wouldn’t be in the position I am now without his knowledge, and all the input from Pete.
“I also enjoyed my time with Yorkshire (in the Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs’ coaching system) and Graham Walker did a great job. I always enjoy doing the little challenges we did and stuff like that.
“I would come away from the sessions having learned a little thing here and there, but compared to what I’ve learned on the Tour this year it’s not even close.
“But Graham does a great job and so does Steve Robinson. It is a good set-up Yorkshire have and I know they are trying to improve it all the time.”