Birdies don’t come by chance. They are the result of good play.
Trust me, you pretty much earn everything you get on the golf course - the good and the bad - and birdie moments are great. There is nothing like the walk to the next tee when you have beaten the last hole’s par.
Stats can tell a lot about your game and it’s no surprise that, week in week out, the players that perform and top the tables on ‘Strokes Gained’ on the par-3s are normally always in contention. This tells me that they are very much in the zone and in control of their swing when it comes to playing approach shots from 200 yards and in.
You must do two things
Striking long to medium irons correctly requires a couple of things:
1. A good descending angle of attack on the ball. That means you strike the ball first, then the ground.
2. You need to commit and trust this movement to release the clubhead and hands probably in order to complete your follow-through in one smooth swing.
Early release is a term most professionals use when a golfer fails to do both of these requirements. This is when, on your downswing, the clubhead speeds up and gets into a position to overtake the hands, reaching the golf ball too early, and losing what we call ‘lag’. Lag is the hinge that your wrists create and hold onto on the downswing until the very last moment before you release them and the clubhead at the ball.
Use your belt as a checkpoint
A simple tip to try and visualise this feeling is to imagine that your belt line is a checkpoint on the downswing. Your hands need to past this line first, holding the clubhead in a higher position. If you do this then you will keep your wrists hinged for a little while longer, storing up power and promoting a better angle of attack.
Also, remember I talked about trust and commitment? Try and do this movement with slightly less pressure on your grip, a common fault amongst people who are prone to early release is that they try and control the club with a tight grip, rather than allowing a natural movement of events to take place.
Release your hands
Use your belt line on the follow through as well. You should aim to have the club travelling at its fastest just after impact, committing to releasing your hands and the clubhead through the impact zone. If you do this, then, naturally, the clubhead will want to overtake the hands.
The weight of the head is now pulling towards the target - if you let go, it would fly in that direction like you were throwing a hammer. To disperse that energy, you hinge your wrists again around the belt line to allow the clubhead to work upwards and around us. This also gets you in a controlled position of the hands finishing behind your head.
Scott Clark is the Director of Golf at Prestonfield Golf Club. For lessons, call Scott on 0131 667 8597. Follow him on Twitter @ScottClarkPGA.