The majority of players now, compared to ten years ago, have what could be classed as ¾ golf swings. You can see I’m not parallel at the top. Where they generate the power now is through their bigger muscles and their core. With the hip resistance in the backswing and top half turning, you can better see the separation.
The elasticity – or what Tiger Woods calls “explosiveness” – comes from having a powerful, solid core. That is going to give you a great opportunity to centre your strike, particularly for amateurs who feel that they somehow have to wind up to hit a longer drive.
You have to ‘hit it harder’ or ‘swing it longer’ and ‘swing it faster’ to hit it further.
Yes, you want to maximise clubhead speed, but you want to do that in a controlled manner. What you’re not looking to do is lash at and lose stability. If you can feel as though you’ve got a shorter backswing with greater torque through the big muscles so you’re not doing as much with the hands and arms, that’s going to generate greater clubhead speed and give you greater distance.
It’s great that more people are beginning to understand the distances they hit their irons. However, there are still large numbers of golfers that don’t take into consideration the conditions on the day, or during their warm-up what shape they’re hitting the ball, or how they’re striking it during the round.
It is common for someone to think, ‘Well I hit my 8-iron 150, so if I get a 152-yard shot, it’s 8-iron’. It’s not that simple.
You always hit the same iron for the same yardage.
Tour players analyse stats a lot more. It may be a heavier day, or they are not hitting it as far that day, or maybe they are not striking it as well. So, they might take a club more and grip down and maybe hit it 75%-80%. They’ll want to feel as though they’ve got more chance of getting it near the flag. Make it as easy as possible.
Take into the account the factors you’ve learnt from that day. How did you hit it in the warm-up? What’s the weather like? How are you playing in that moment? Don’t feel as though you hit your wedge 120 yards and that’s it. Golf is about scoring. People will never know whether you’ve hit your 9-iron 120 yards or rattled a perfect wedge 120 yards. It’s about scoring.
Good wedge play is all about understanding loft. The more you understand that your wedge – around the green – will naturally pop the ball into the air, the better. At no stage should you help the ball up into the air.
You might have a 52º, 56º, or a 58º and you’re trying to pop the ball up – but if you set yourself up with your weight on the front foot and you’ve got a slight descending blow and you accelerate through it, the ball will pop up naturally.
Most golfers feel like they need to help the ball up, so they flick it with the wrists, or get their weight on the back foot. That leads to disastrous consequences as you’re either going to mishit it and hit it fat, or hit it exceptionally thin.
The more you trust your set-up and the club – and as long as you hit down and through – the ball will pop up and land softly. What you’re trying to do is make sure is that your weight stays on your left side. This applies on anything from 50 to 70 yards, depending on the individual.
Andrew Jowett is the Head PGA Professional at Gleneagles. For lessons, call Andrew on 01764 694343. Follow him on Twitter @andyj1504.