INTO THE GREEN
‘change your backswing length to regulate how far you hit it.’
It’s such a bad feeling to hit a great drive and then hit a short iron nowhere near the hole. That’s why I went to work early last season on figuring out how far I hit those clubs. Being pin high, even if you’re a little left or right of the hole, is a key to scoring. I used a TrackMan and kept practising with each short iron, swinging it three different backswing lengths, and then trying to guess how far the ball would fly. TrackMan would confirm whether I was right or wrong, but it got to the point where I was right 95 percent of the time.To dial in each wedge, here’s what I do.
1. i play the ball in roughly the same spot for each club, centred between my feet. I square the face with my target, but I keep my stance line slightly open (previous page, photo No. 1), and swing as if I’m playing a fade. It makes it easier to keep the clubface square.
2. the backswing with each
club is key. I’ll swing the club halfway back, three-quarters back (No. 2) or make a full backswing depending on how far I want the ball to go. I don’t swing harder; just longer. This gives me the three stock yardages with each short iron.
3. my downswing is always
the same. There’s really not a lot of wrist action (No. 3). My hands stay quiet, and I turn through the ball at the same pace no matter how far I took it back. It’s that fade-swing mentality.
4. one final thing to
remember: Short shots still require a full finish (No. 4). Don’t saw off your swing, or distance control will be more of a guessing game.
Only a few tour pros have a shot that can make other tour pros stop what they’re doing on the range and have a look. Dustin Johnson has one. Some golfers hide big power in a deceptively compact package. But Johnson is built like an NBA guard, so the 300-metre plus lightning bolts he hits with his 196-kilometre-per-hour clubhead speed don’t seem that surprising. His PGATour Player of theYear season in 2016 came in big part after moving away from a more volatile draw to a consistent baby fade. “I don’t try to fade it,” Johnson says.“I just set up a hair more open, aim at the left side of the fairway, and I swing. If I’m working to make the ball go left to right, something is off.”
Not much was off last season when he won three times, including the US Open, led the tour in money, scoring and birdies, and was second in driving distance and strokes gained off the tee.
“He probably drove it better than anybody all year,” says Butch Harmon, who has worked with Johnson since 2010.“I think he’ll have an even bigger year this year.”–matthew rudy
approaches 50-125 yards 16’ 2016 pga tour rank: 4