Distance control starts with selecting the right club
Taking Off 5-10 Yds
There are times when taking a little extra club and learning to control the distance so the golf ball won’t travel quite as far makes a lot of sense. In fact, this may be the best option for a lesser-skilled player until ballstriking becomes a little more consistent. Taking more club is a good idea for higher-handicapped players because these golfers tend to bank on hitting their shots more solidly than they generally do, so consequently, they often don’t take enough club even for normal shots.
To hit the ball a little shorter than you typically do, grip down one to two inches on the handle and make the length of the backswing and the forwardswing feel about three-quarters. The pace and tempo of the whole swing—hands, arms and body—should be slightly slower than normal. The swing should feel very smooth, but guard against deceleration or “quitting” on the shot. Teeing the ball up a little higher on tee shots will make the trajectory of the shot higher, fly a little shorter and land softer with less roll.
Just as drawing the golf ball will allow for a few added yards, hitting a fade—a shot that curves from left to right—will subtract a few yards. A fade imparts sidespin much like an undercut tennis shot that drops over the net and stops dead.
To set up to hit a fade, position the ball slightly forward in your stance. With the clubface aimed in the direction the ball should finish, align your body left of the target line or in the direction the ball should start. This “open” stance will encourage the desired out-to-in path necessary to fade the golf ball, and the clubface will be open relative to your body alignments. Firm up the grip pressure a little in both hands to keep the clubface from closing too soon through the hitting area.
Are You A Hitter Or A Swinger?
For a tweener shot, Greg Norman would take one less club. Ernie Els would take one more. Greg hits it hard, is generally an aggressive player and can easily manufacture five to 10 more yards out of a particular club when necessary. Ernie Els, on the other hand, has a slower tempo and is a swinger of the golf club. He’d do better at making some adjustments to reduce the regular yardage produced with a certain club to hit it five to 10 yards less.
Examine which type of golfer you are and decide what strategy best suits your particular style of play. You may find that this ingredient will sway you in one direction or another when you land between clubs.
Remember, it's not important what type of golfer you are. What matters is the quality of your shots. If you learn which factors influence distance and direction, the quality of your shots will skyrocket.
Distance Control Drill
Practice distance control by hitting three clubs the same distance on the practice range. Choose a flag on the range with a yardage that corresponds to the distance you normally hit one of your middle irons.
Say you’ve chosen a 150-yard target, which is a perfect 7-iron distance. Hit five 7-irons to the flag. Then choose a 6-iron, making the appropriate setup and swing adjustments, and hit five shots to the same 150-yard target.
Finally, try hitting an 8-iron to the same target, using the setup and swing techniques necessary to get a little more distance than normal. Make note of your success with each series of balls. One approach or the other will best suit your style of golf and afford the best opportunity to hit the ball next to the flagstick.
Senior Instruction Editor and 1999 PGA Teacher of the Year Mike McGetrick owns and operates the McGetrick Golf Academy, located outside Denver, Colo. Mike coaches golfers of all levels, including players on the PGA and LPGA Tours who have a combined total of 40 worldwide wins and 9 Major Championships. Mike is proud to have coached five players on the victorious 12-member 2002 Solheim Cup team. LPGA Class A member and author Lana Ortega is a lead instructor at the Academy (www.mcgetrickgolf.com).
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