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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Step 3: Try It with an Iron

This is the last post on the deadhands approach shot, and I think you’ll find this was worth the wait. If you understood the first three posts, this one should enable you to make almost instant improvement in your ability to hit the green.

Before we start, let me remind you that your forearms don’t rotate and that you should use a relaxed grip. Those are the First and Third Principles of Good Putting, and they don’t change just because the swing gets longer. Don’t “clench” the club in a death grip; relaxed muscles remain in position and generate more clubhead speed with less work.

Below is another example of my amazing artwork. It shows several positions in a typical approach shot; numbers 2 and 3 are the critical ones for our discussion, so they’re darker. Position 2 is when your hands reach the end of the backswing; position 3 is when your hands start the downswing. The point labeled with that huge letter ‘A’ is the point where your hands change direction, and this is the critical point in the deadhand swing.

Deadhands approach sequence using club

The primary difference between the deadhand approach (accuracy shot) and the drive (power shot) happens at ‘A’. In the deadhand shot, point A is pretty much the same for both position 2 and position 3. In a power shot, the two are different; point A for position 3 moves down toward position 4. (This move isn’t shown in the drawing because we’re discussing the deadhand swing; but if you look back at my posts about using a loop to generate power and study the pictures there, you’ll see this difference immediately.)

Since this change of direction between 2 and 3 is the critical point, let’s look at it in more detail.

We reach position 2 as the hands stop at the end of the backswing. In essence, they coast to a stop at the top; we don’t sling the club back with a lot of force. The key is that the clubhead continues to move after our hands stop, and we feel this as a pressure in the wrists. Ever heard a teacher like Jim Flick or Bob Toski talk about “feeling the weight of the clubhead”? This is the sensation they’re talking about. You may also have heard it referred to as feeling the clubhead “drop into the slot”; again, this is the same thing.

The downswing (position 3) starts just as slowly. In the deadhanded approach shot, we’re trying to get accuracy, so we don’t want to jerk the clubhead off-line as we start down. Therefore, when we feel that pressure we start our hands moving smoothly, allowing them to accelerate gradually. The slow start down will cause you to carry more wrist cock into the hitting area, so you’ll hit it farther than you think you will. (Think about it: You feel pressure because the clubhead is still moving away from the ball. If you start down when you feel this pressure, the clubhead is resisting the change of direction and actually holds your relaxed wrists in that cocked position longer on the way down. You don’t have to try and “hold the angle,” as some teachers say; the club will do it for you!)

This is one of those things you can practice almost anywhere that’s convenient, at almost any time that’s convenient. You can do it in your backyard without having to hit any balls at all. What you’re learning is how to feel that pressure in your hands and wrists; since this is an unhurried shot, you’ll have plenty of time to do so.

This is not a power swing, but an accuracy swing; nevertheless, you should still get pretty good distance with it, and you’ll get longer as you become more familiar with the move and are able to relax more while doing it. With this swing, you can pretty much judge how far the ball is going to go by how far you take the club back; and because you aren’t trying to muscle the ball down the fairway, your distance control will be pretty consistent.

And that’s basically it. I could bore you with more technical info, but you don’t really need it. This is a simple swing; it’s easy to learn and it doesn’t take a lot of practice to get good at it… but it’s a deadly weapon in any player’s hands.

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