Suzann Pettersen: my strategy secrets

What you can learn from the two-time Major Champion

Suzann Pettersen
Suzann Pettersen on what you can learn from the women's game

Suzann Pettersen reflects on the depth of women’s golf these days and how it is more relevant to normal club golfers than the men’s power game

Suzann Pettersen reflects on the depth of women’s golf these days and how it is more relevant to normal club golfers than the men’s power game...

A closer comparison

The depth of the women’s game has never been greater, with so many good young players coming up. I remember when I was the youngest and now I’m more like the oldest! That’s another great thing about golf – the longevity of it if you can stay healthy. I think people can relate more readily to our game because the men’s game is outrageous – they hit it so far and are so powerful. From what we see and experience in our Pro-Ams, good male amateurs are very similar to us. You just can’t compare yourself to what the guys are doing – it’s insane at times.

Keeping up with the girls

The men in Pro-Ams try to outdrive us all the time! Once in a while you get the guy who can bomb it 300 yards, but most of the time I can take care of business, although sometimes you have to step on it to do it! But Pro-Ams are great – 99% of the time you meet great people. You see some of them year after year, so it’s always nice to come back to certain tournaments. You get to have good friends pretty much everywhere.

More of a power game

You could probably say women’s golf is becoming more of a power game too, but that being said, Lydia Ko is not necessarily a bomber – she’s just very good overall. The best females over the last ten years have all been great putters: Inbee Park makes everything; Lydia makes everything she looks at. But our courses are getting longer too. The US Open this year was 6,900-7,000 yards, so it is an advantage to hit it far.

Think about it more

Average golfers could save themselves so many shots with better strategy, probably on the tee more than anything, but also on certain approach shots. Sometimes 3-wood is the play off the tee to give yourself a good yardage instead of being in between clubs. And then there are certain pins you just don’t go for, where par is a good score or middle of the green is good, and you take your two-putt and move on… and probably have the honour on the next! But at the same time, if you’re never going to push your own limits, it’s going to take you longer to get really good. We have great caddies to guide us along, especially if you’re playing well and feel you could take on anything.

A different take on rhythm

In terms of the swing, people sometimes say, “I’ve got to have good rhythm”, but that’s never been the way for me. It’s always mechanical. I’ve never had a lot of swing thoughts relating to rhythm. For me, rhythm is more about getting into the flow of the game. It’s nice to get to a good pace as if it gets slow it can affect you. You’re out there for a long time so you’ve got to somehow find your own way of creating your own pace, because you could be waiting forever.

Pettersen in action during the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open at Turnberry

Suzann Pettersen

Blend caution and aggression

I’m naturally aggressive. I’d rather risk and regret than not take any chances and regret. I feel that will help you develop as a player. I’ve hit a lot of greens over the last five years – 77% or so – and I think it’s because I never give up the centre of the green. If I have a left pin I’ll hit a draw from the centre out, and to a right pin I’ll fade it in. I hate to have to aim outside the green to attack the pin, but if you feel really good, you do it.

When to attack

Early in the tournament you probably wouldn’t go for it, but coming down the stretch needing an eagle on a par 5 to have any chance of winning… well, you’re not playing for second. Other times it might be one in ten. Is it worth it? You’ve got to be good at calculation. Can you save yourself if you do get in trouble? That’s also when it’s good to have a caddie to play ball with – is it worth it? I like to shape the ball, but if you hit every shot on the range yet never put it in play, what’s the point in practising it?

Learning from Phil

I played with Phil Mickelson in March and he has an unbelievable wedge game. It’s like he says: “My wedges do exactly what I need them to do. They react exactly how I want.” If he took my wedge it probably wouldn’t quite react the same with his attack angle. I learnt a lot from Phil and the way he explained it was really simple. Obviously it’s his way of doing it, but I feel like it made sense. People say he’s kind of ‘hinge and hold’ – you know how he holds it through the ball – but he still releases it. He also uses the bounce and the leading edge exactly how they were designed.

The mental side

I think it’s underrated. It’s probably as important as the long game, the short game, everything, because if you can’t control what’s between the ears, it doesn’t really matter how good you are.

Photography: Getty Images

Nick Bonfield
Content Editor

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel win The Masters and PGA Championship respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x