One of the most common “flaws” I see in amateur golfers is that they hit their high lofted scoring clubs – short irons and wedges – too high. This prevents consistent distance control and doesn’t do much for your accuracy, either. I spent Sunday afternoon watching the LPGA ladies play the Evian in France, and was wow’-ed by how accurate they hit their approach shots – at least those in the final few groups. But to a lady, none of them were trying to “pound” their approach shots with lots of power. All they did was knock flags down hole after hole.
This topic is inspired today by a question I received from a reader, who asked:
If I ever need a full wedge shot, it seems that the ball just balloons. I hit it further with a hold-off shot. Is this due to poor technique or the fact that the wedges are S-300s, when all my other clubs are X-flex?
Well, you hit the nail on the head when you realized that you hit the ball further with a “hold-off” shot. The fact is that we are fed a constant stream of drivel from the golf magazines, television announcers, etc. that pound us with the idea that the key is to hit it further. Well, I contend that they are completely wrong, at least when it comes to your irons, specifically your high loft scoring clubs – those from the 8-iron on down to the wedges. Please hear me out and think about this.
When you are in scoring range, it really doesn’t matter what iron you hit . . . only where you hit it. But because we are all being pounded with this distance talk, almost every golfer I meet is trying to hit their irons and wedges further than they should. Besides reducing your consistency of solid contact, a harder swing makes it more difficult to stay “ahead of the club” through impact, so the clubhead passes the hands, adding loft to the face. Even though it’s traveling faster, this launches the ball much higher and your distance consistency just isn’t there. Does that sound familiar?
But think about all those occasions when you’ve tried to “just hit it smooth” with a short iron or wedge? You will often find that you make very solid contact, the ball leaves the club on a great (re: lower) trajectory and possibly even flies longer than you expected. Well, that “easy” swing is really what your “full” swings should be like with your scoring clubs!
When you put a wedge or short iron in your hand, your singular goal is to hit the ball the very precise distance it needs to travel to get close to the flag. These four or five clubs are for accuracy and scoring – you have a whole bag full of clubs for distance. So, the real secret to a good short iron and wedge game is the ability to hit each of these clubs a certain distance reliably – every time! And a big part of that process is learning to hit the ball on the same trajectory each time with these scoring clubs. The more fluid and controlled swing you make, the easier it becomes to do just that.
Next time you go to the range or play a round of golf, try hitting “one more club” on all your approach shots. If you are 125 yards and you would normally reach for a 9-iron, pull the 8. Don’t think about distance, but focus on making a nice smooth move down and through impact, with the left side leading all the way. Because you are not trying to hit it hard, you will naturally lighten your grip, your muscles will be more relaxed, and your consistency of impact will be much improved. I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut that you’ll see a lower ball flight, and much more consistent distance control.
Once you see that better shotmaking with your scoring clubs comes from this controlled shorter swing, you can re-adjust your thinking about what a “full” swing is with the scoring clubs, and you will hit many more greens with your wedges and short irons . . . and your scores will improve dramatically.