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Friday, August 21, 2015

When You're Between Clubs

Most weekend players -- especially high handicappers -- soon figure out that, when you've got a shot to the green but you're between clubs, you:
  1. take the longer club
  2. choke down on the grip
  3. swing normally or even a bit easier
The reason is because this is a higher percentage shot than trying to hit the shorter club hard. Even the pros have a tendency to either hit that shorter club a bit fat, hit it a bit thin or hit a pull that flies too long and misses the target.

However, you might not know that you should make some setup changes if you want to hit this "between" shot well. The September issue of Golf Magazine (p102) included a description of the proper setup for getting the best results. I'm going to sum it up here.
  • Grip down on the handle an inch or two: Obviously this takes some distance off the shot but Golf Magazine also notes that it makes the club easier to control.
  • Stand a bit closer to the ball: You've shortened the club by gripping down on it but you still want to stand as tall as you can. This is the logical solution.
  • Position the ball just a bit more forward in your stance -- that is, more toward your lead foot: This one may sound a bit counterproductive but this is part of the way you control trajectory. You're trying to hit the ball a shorter distance so this helps you hit it higher, increasing the effective loft of the longer club so your shot behaves more like the shorter iron would when it lands.
  • Set your hands directly over the ball: I routinely recommend this anyway, as it gives the shaft a slight forward lean without overdoing it (to improve contact), but Golf Magazine says this will also help you hit the ball on a bit higher trajectory so it lands more softly. I was unaware of this but now I understand that's why my shots often stop on the green more quickly than my playing companions expect.
These are minor changes to your setup but they should really help you get better results on those less-than-full approach shots.

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