Editor’s Note: It’s getting more and more evident that amateur golfers should put the bulk of their practice time into the short game, from the pitching wedge in. That’s where well over half of the strokes in a round take place. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the longer clubs. Of course not — every successful hole begins with a good tee shot, a solid approach and, sometimes, a well-thought-out lay-up on a par 5 or long par-4. The following handful of tips from our friends at the beautiful Salish Cliffs Golf Club in Shelton, Washington, just a half hour or so north of the capital city of Olympia, offer their tried-and- true methods for achieving more golf power and accuracy from those clubs you pull when you’re farther from the target.
IRON FORCE 1
Ball ‘Normal’ vs. Ball Forward
Chris: When you are trying to squeeze a few more yards out of your irons give yourself a little more room to transfer your weight by moving the ball toward the target in your stance. In addition to the allowing a more aggressive weight shift, your new ball position will help raise your trajectory and get those extra carry yards needed.
IRON FORCE 2
Find Power At The Top
Chris: It’s not always the big muscles and joints that help produce power in the golf swing. The small ones are crucial, too — none more so than the wrist.
Can you spot the difference in Photos 1 and 2? It’s subtle, but the one below has more hinge. Which is good. You don’t need to lift the club higher or try to turn more to pick up those few yards with your irons. Don’t do anything drastic, just add more hinge to really set the top of your backswing. Assuming your ball position is good for squeezing out extra distance, you’re in fine shape to send those approach shots soaring.
IRON FORCE 3
Hip To Be ‘Fired’
Chris: When golfers try to make a more aggressive swing and weight transfer, they need to make sure the sequence starts with the lower body while maintaining wrist hinge. As weight moves toward the target golfers need to make sure to rotate the lower body and get the right hip firing through impact, as I’m demonstrating in Photos 3 and 4.
If you can do these three things, you should be able to squeeze those extra yards you need out of your irons.
BOMB THE DRIVER
Tee It High And ‘Ground Your Leverage’
Brad: I always tell my students to make sure they have a few set-up and swing bases covered when they’re looking to get the ball further down the fairway. I like the right leg to remain flexed a bit in the backswing, which promotes more hip turn. That doesn’t mean letting the club go too far past the target line, however — on the contrary, as I demonstrate in Photo 5, I’m a little “laid off,” meaning the club points to the left — which promotes an inside-out path/draw.
Photo 6 shows that when you want to bomb the driver, widening your stance and dropping your back foot allows you to load into your glutes more and use the ground to create more power (Photos 7 and 8). Similar to taking a jump shot in basketball, if you are going to shoot from a farther distance, you need squat down farther in order to generate more power from the ground up.
MASTER THE 3-WOOD
How To Keep It In Play
Chris: The 3-wood (or 3-metal) should be one of the most versatile and reliable clubs in your bag, but too many golfers try to hit it like a driver by going at it too hard. The key for this stick, especially from the fairway or light rough, is to stay relaxed at address, swing to the finish and stay fluid (Photos 9-11). Don’t steer the shot or swing from the top; let the loft do the work and let the clubhead release naturally via its own weight. If you are choosing the 3-wood to stay in the fair-way, then avoid swinging for the fences or else you might just send your ball over a fence!
Chris Koch and Brad Elzie are PGA teaching professionals at Salish Cliffs Golf Club in Shelton, Washington. Check out the course and Little Creek Resort at www.little-creek.com