March 3, 2021
Are you hitting the right club?
Nick Price made this statement a few years ago, "I'm not impressed with someone that hits it straight, what I am impressed with, is if they hit it the right distance." Many times I ask one of my students how far they hit a certain club and they usually give me a number that doesn't fit with what I am seeing on the practice tee. What they are giving me is their best shot and not their average shot. When on the course, this person is consistently short on his approach shots, because he is always swinging full and expecting the maximum distance on an exact hit.
Here is what a typical shot pattern looks like for a 150 yards shot by an average 10 to 15 handicapper.
What you see is that only a few shots get far enough to be close to the hole, while most are 30 feet short and many are 60 feet short. A general rule is each club has a difference of 10 yards in length. In this case the player should be using one club more for this shot.
Each shot should be evaluated based on the circumstances that presents itself, but given a middle pin with relatively no problems, this should be the shot pattern that each player should strive for.
The club selection should be one that comfortably will get to the pin without pressing the shot. You should strive for the correct distance, but in the end have as many shots end up past the pin as come up short.
Many years ago at La Quinta Country Club, I played nine holes with Dick Mayer, the 1957 US Open Champion. Dick was not playing much golf those days and had not played for a full year. He played in street shoes and a borrowed set of clubs. It was just a fun nine holes with two other golf professionals. Dick's golf game was of course rusty, but his natural instincts were still there. With all of the reasons for him to play poorly, he played a respectable three over par with a couple of short missed putts. What was impressive, but even more so, was his distance control. Even if he didn't hit it straight, the ball ended up going the right distance. I was much longer in those days and I would hit a 9 iron and Dick would hit a "little" six iron. He wasn't worried about what club it was, he was interested in getting it to go the right distance. Much should be learned from his example.
When you watch the pros on television, please note their shot pattern. They are very good at getting the right distance. Their shot dispersion is tighter than the average players, but they go past the pin as much as they come up short. There is their chart.
The goal for accurate iron play is to have a reliable free flowing golf swing that produces consistent distance control. A full out 100% golf swing with an iron is not going to be reliable or consistent. Step back a club and swing smoother and you will be pleasantly surprised with your better scores.