Alternate Driving

When your driving goes south -- or when situations call for something other than the big dog -- ?don't forget your options

You can feel free to leave the driver in the bag when facing either a short par-4 (anything less than 380 yards) or a long par-5 that you can’t reach in two with even your best drive. Both these situations are ones in which amateurs almost always reach for the driver, but shouldn’t. On any shorter par-4 hole, you should always think of position first and distance second. Get the ball in the fairway and believe that your iron swing and short game will get the job done. When it comes to long par-5 holes, which you know you can’t reach in two, hitting the driver serves no purpose, except to increase the risk without the probability of a worthwhile reward.

Long Irons Long Iron
The ultimate shotmaking weapon is a valid choice on windy days and if your preferred ballflight is a fade.

Punch It!
Although the popularity of long irons has waned in recent years due to the popularization of hybrid clubs, a lot of people still carry them. If you have long irons in your bag, one of the most useful tee shots you can learn is the punch fade. The thing to remember about this shot is it won’t run nearly as much as a shot that’s turned over, so you have to aim accordingly.

This can be a very useful shot on short par-4 holes and at times when you’re hitting into a crosswind or a strong headwind. To execute the punch fade long iron, begin with a slightly open stance, with the ball more toward the middle of your stance. The backswing should be more upright to encourage a steeper angle of attack while the right arm extends against a bent right wrist. Through impact, it’s critical that you don’t allow the right hand to release over the left. Instead, keep the left hand and arm above the right, with the right wrist bent throughout the shot. This will effectively hold off impact and create the desired low, left-to-right ballflight. Also, you need to be aggressive with your body movement, making sure it leads the club and never allows it to pass, even beyond impact. When it comes to the finish, be sure to abbreviate the movement of the club and clubface—otherwise you’re likely to get some ballooning shots.

Hold On Hybrid Irons
The MacGregor V-FOIL
Go Long features an iron-style design with concentrated mass and perimeter weighting that’s said to deliver control and accuracy. Bridgestone’s J33 AirMuscle has a hollow body designed to create greater trampoline effect for greater distance, while the sole provides versatility. The Nike Golf Pro Combo is a true iron-style hybrid with a 70g insert for a low CG. PING’s G2 HL is designed with an extremely wide sole and undercut cavity for extra forgiveness.

Hold On!
To many, this finish position probably looks a little unorthodox, or just plain ugly. The fact of the matter is just about any good player will utilize this type of position when executing a low-trajectory fade. Notice how the right arm is almost completely straight while the right wrist is still bent back—this combination is critical for solid, compressed contact. The left elbow is also slightly bent, or “chicken-winged,” which helps create the desired left-to-right shape. 

PGA professional Brady Riggs instructs at Woodley Lakes GC in Van Nuys, Calif. Photos shot at Tierra Rejada GC in Moorpark, Calif.


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