You guys had lots to say in response to Tuesday’s post, so thank you for chiming in. That makes this blog more fun to write and more fun for all to read I’m certain.
Today I’m going to address the question that Anti-Mulligan asked about learning to hit wedges close to the hole. Developing the ability to hit accurate scoring shots– and dial in your distance within 2-3 yards most of the time – will make anyone’s scoring much better in a hurry. And I call the ‘scoring shots’ all those made with your clubs over 40* of loft, which will include your 9-iron. I see three very common errors in golfers in this part of their game, so see if any of these might describe you, A-M:
- Many golfers try to hit their scoring clubs too far. A “full” shot with a scoring club is made with much less effort than a “full” shot with a middle-iron or hybrid. That reduced swing speed allows you to better control the trajectory, which in turn makes the distance more consistent. If you hit these high, ballooning wedge and short iron shots, you will never get consistent on your distance. Work on your swing pace, tempo and power application. Throttle back and you will see your trajectories come down and distance control improve significantly. You’ll also see that accuracy improve.
- Many get too “hands-y” with these shots. As you move into the shorter clubs, that are used for precision shotmaking, you must quiet your hand action and control the swing more with the body core, the big muscles. They are less likely to “twitch” and manipulate the clubface. What you are after in the scoring clubs is a controlled swing that repeats reliably. To really understand what I’m talking about, watch this Steve Stricker video — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic5EljdJWUQ — and pay attention to the extreme simplicity of his move back and through the ball. Watch it over and over and over and over . . . And watch this one to learn what is really going in Steve’s technique — http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=HAaLWGGDj2A&NR=1
- Take Dead Aim. This was the famous advice of the legendary Harvey Penick. It applies on every shot, but is even more important on your precision scoring shots, where you want the ball to fly to a very precise spot and end up close to the hole. The Mel Gibson movie, “The Patriot”, offered a bit of golf advice in the early scenes, where he reminds his young boys to “aim small, miss small”. I’ve referenced that before. When hitting scoring club approach shots, really fine-tune your aim to a specific point, whether the flag or a spot just left or right, short or long of it.
And the BONUS tip? P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E. You have to spend time on the range perfecting your scoring club technique. You have to hit hundreds . . . no, thousands . . . of shots with your scoring clubs to get good with them. And don’t just mindlessly pound balls into oblivion. Pick targets . . . different targets . . . and hit shots to them. Build little groupings of golf balls at various distances. This is the precise part of the game, and you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
One final note on getting great with your scoring clubs. If it’s important to you that you can hit a pitching wedge over about 125-130, then you’ll not likely ever get that good with these short clubs.
They are not meant to be hit that hard.