September 16, 2022
Learn to be a player and not a mechanical swinger
Nick Price was quoted as saying that, "he wasn't impressed with someone that hit the ball straight, but what did impress him was someone that hit it the right distance." Professional and top flight amateurs know how to maneuver the ball around the golf course. They will hit numerous variations of iron shots: all with the express goal of having the ball go the right distance to the hole. The average golfer has one shot that he or she uses to cover a multitude of situations. That golfer should expand their repertoire of golf shots with each club and that can only be done with practice.
Here is drill that Tiger Woods has used. You can, of course, vary the distance, but the concept is the same. Tiger can hit a full wedge shot 150 yards. He will use that distance as his target distance. He will dial in that distance with his full wedge. Once satisfied he will then go to a nine iron and hit the ball the same distance. He will do the same for an eight iron and then the seven iron. Each shot will have a lower flight characteristic along with swing length and clubhead speed. He is building tempo and feel.
A variation for you could be that your 7 iron full shot is 150 yards. Start with making sure that you are averaging close to that yardage with your 7. Then do the same with a six iron and then the five iron and even a hybrid, but only go 150 yards. It may surprise you that you have better control for the distance when you hit a longer club at a slower speed!
Ben Hogan said that, "the hardest shot in golf is the dreaded straight ball." Whether it is a small draw or a fade, he advocated moving the ball in one direction or the other. Curving the ball is an acquired skill. In a practice session, once you are properly warmed up, think distance control first, and then zero in on a target. Then work on hooking or slicing the ball towards the target. Don't just settle on just one ball flight pattern (high or low) or one club to accomplish the task.
Harry Vardon, the best player of his time, who dominated over 110 years ago, was known for his deadly accuracy and consistent driving. He criticized the player who would swing full on every swing. He would rather hit a Mashie Niblick, or the equivalent of a modern day 7 iron, to hitting a higher shot with a Niblick, the equivalent of a 9 iron or pitching wedge. His accuracy was legendary.
Ego in golf is a natural enemy to proper club selection. Sure you once hit a seven iron 170 yards. Do you really expect to do that again? The smart golfer knows how to make the ball go the right distance. Your ego shouldn't care if you hit a 7 iron or a hybrid club, just that you got the desired result. Practice new shots on the range and be distance aware. It will make a difference.