Sunday, June 29, 2008

The shot of my life (so far)

Yesterday I played 9-holes on a really hot afternoon. (100F, 37.8C). Phew.

My improvement with the irons continued. I carried on my run of great first shots on this course with an opening 5-iron that I lost sight of immediately, only to see it land cleanly on the green.

My putting absolutely sucked. I must have had at least four birdie puts and didn't even manage a single par. I really must play more.

I was also very pleased with a 7-iron shot in a fair wind with the ball a good foot above my feet. The club was too long for the range, but I wanted to keep the ball down. So I hit it with reduced power, and was delighted to see the ball land and stay on the green.

I'm actually starting to get used to iron shots hitting the green...

Anyway, the reason for this post is the tee shot of the last hole. Normally I choose my irons based on the 7-iron giving me 140 yards, and moving up and down a club for each 10 yards each way. This hole was 145 yards: between clubs. There was no wind at this point, so I picked the 7-iron because I'd much rather be short than long on this particular hole (hills at the back, flat fairway at the front).

Now, as I said before, my iron play has greatly improved of late, but I do still have three main problems:
  1. I sometimes spoon the ball massively high and right, curling right viciously (normally with the shorter irons).
  2. When I hit it straight it tends to be pushed right (no curl).
  3. I'm still not hitting down on the ball as much as I should be (I'm not taking divots for a start).
The first problem I have basically identified as being caused by my wrists being lazy and not squaring up the clubface at the bottom of the swing. I'm aware of this and am working on it.

The second problem is more of a mystery, but I have a theory. I think it's because I'm not unwinding my hips early enough, so my entire upper body is still rotated away from the flag somewhat at the time of contact. Given a proper swing plane relative to my upper body, this would tend to produce a straight shot to the right.

The third shot is I also think connected to my wrist action.

Anyway, when stepping up for the 9th hole t-shot I concentrated on these things when doing the practice swings. I always like to find something I can think of that will produce the result I want without having to think about the mechanics of it, so in this case I concentrated on snapping my wrists through at the bottom and making a nice "thwack" sound with the club on the grass. I also concentrated on driving my hips through, especially close to the bottom of the swing (not the top: this used to contribute to the slice I used to suffer from).

So, I stepped forward and put all of this into practice, and...

OK, one more tangent. Since I've got better with the irons I've been listening out for a nice "click" sound when I get a decent contact. If I get that sound, I know I've hit it cleanly.

Back to this shot. I didn't get a click. I got a louder, sharp "snap" sound, the ball rocketed into the air, and seemed to hang there for an eternity. When it came down it did so behind the hills at the back of the green.

I just hit a 7-iron something like 150-160 yards, maybe more. And it wasn't bladed.

Oh, and it was straight too. No pushing to the right in sight.

Good news? Well, yes of course, but it does present a couple of problems. For a start, what club do I pick now when I want to hit 140 yards? I'm certainly not going to start hitting like this consistently overnight. I think I'm going to have to spend some time at the driving range in order to discover exactly how I did this and get consistent with it. Then I'm going to have to reevaluate which clubs do which distance all over again.

Then I really do have to work on that sucky putting...


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