‘change your back­swing length to reg­u­late how far you hit it.’

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

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

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