One-Club Wonder!

Who needs 14 clubs? Your 6-iron can do just about anything.

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Play 9 Holes With Your 6-iron

As per the rules of golf, we're allowed to play with a maximum of 14 clubs, so why would I advocate playing nine holes with just your 6-iron? Well, for one thing, the 6-iron is a very versatile club. You can use it around the green, out of fairway and greenside bunkers and on many par-3s. Have to punch out from under a tree? The 6-iron is often the best stick for the job. But it isn't just its versatility that lends itself to a quick nine holes. It's a mid-iron club that can be hit with pretty decent distance, too. In fact, if you hit your 6-iron 160-170 yards, I bet you can reach many par-4s and 5s in regulation with it. From there, all you need are two putts for par.

The most important lesson from playing with just a 6-iron is how creative you'll be when you don't have a typical shot to play. Consider that Seve Ballesteros grew up playing golf with just a 3-iron. Being so limited in his club selection improved the Spaniard's creativity and likely made him one of the game's most inventive players. Limit yourself to just one club and you'll be amazed at what it does for your imagination, too!

Fade It, Draw It, Hit It Straight

Course management is one of the game's least talked about skills—but one of its most important. How a player manages his or her game can make the difference between shooting a personal best and having an average day.

Check out the above photo taken on the 18th hole of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa where I teach. The pin is cut below the chimney of the white building. There are two bunkers guarding the green, and as you can see, there's more room to the right of the flag than to the left.

Based on where my ball ends up in the fairway, I want to hit it straight, draw it or fade it. From the left side of the fairway, I'll draw it. This takes the left bunker out of play. When I'm in the center of the fairway, I'll hit it straight (or with a slight draw), and if I'm on the right side and slightly blocked by that large tree, I'll hit a little fade to take the branches out of play. Of course, standing on the tee and knowing the pin position helps me determine exactly where I want to hit my drive so I have the best chance of hitting it close on my second shot.

To curve the ball, aim the clubface at the target, and adjust your body lines to the left (for a fade) and right (for a draw). From there, swing along your body lines, like you're swinging to the left or to the right, while keeping the clubface aimed at the target. Curving a shot isn't any more difficult than that. To increase the curvature, adjust your body lines more.


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