Become a GIR machine
Become a greens machine.
Iron play is by far the best part of my game. My ball striking has been a feature in all my big wins so far including the Qatar Amateur, the Scottish Boys’ Stroke Play Championship at Lanark and when I became the first amateur to win on the MENA Tour at my home Dubai Creek Open last September. My putter has obviously co-operated at the same time but it’s all about getting it on the green in the first place to give your- self a chance with the flat stick. I’ve worked hard learning how to hit shots with a draw or fade, low or high in pretty much any conditions with the assist of my coach Justin Parsons at The Butch Harmon School of Golf here in Dubai. It’s helped me average 14 to 15 greens pretty much every round which means I get some decent looks at birdie. I’m not exactly old at age 17, but ever since I was young I’ve been able to hit it pretty far. Hopefully you’ll be able to pick up on the sound fundamentals Justin has ingrained into my swing and cash in on the greens. If you can hole even two or three opportunities that solid iron play invariably presents, I’m sure you’ll soon understand why I spend so much time grooving this part of my game on the range.
MAINTAIN YOUR SPINE ANGLE ON THE WAY BACK
1I see a lot of my fellow amateurs set up with their hips back and their spine angle forward which promotes a steep swing, an across the ball attack and plenty of high, distance sucking slices (see faded image).
I think about my spine angle being tilted back, or slightly to the right, away from the target at address. It helps me stay shallow and keep my swing on plane. If I start hitting steep divots, I know I need to check my set up.
My ball position is fairly neutral for every shot, roughly in the middle of my stance for this seven iron shot. I may change it depending on the shape I’m trying to put on the shot, slightly forward if I want to hit a little fade or a higher shot and further back if a controlled draw or a shot under the wind is required.
The key for me is maintaining my spine angle on the way back which helps impart a little less spin on the ball, important in the wind especially.
TUCK YOUR RIGHT ELBOW INTO YOUR SIDE
2During the takeaway, I like to feel like I’m keeping my right arm close to my body. This gives my swing a better shape, keeping it shallow and on plane. From there it helps me track back better to the ball and promotes a nice high draw when I want it.
What I like to visualise is a ball placed in between my forearms and I try to keep that imaginary ball there throughout the swing. There are training aids for this – it’s a little bigger than a mini football - which really help. It just maintains the position and stability and keeps the takeaway nice and wide.
STEP INTO YOUR LEFT HEEL
3What I try to think about on the down swing is turning into my left heel, almost like I’m stepping into my leading shoe. That helps me clear my hips better and gets me into the right position at impact.
Amateurs tend to get their weight up onto their toes because they’re trying to hit it hard but in fact that just thrusts your hips forward which often leads to a big block out right or a hook left.
When you swing up to the top, you’ll feel like all the weight is on your right side. Don’t thrust forward on the downswing, instead try to feel like your weight is going back onto that left heel. A good drill for that is to get into your position at the top, then stand back a little before taking a small step into the shot and hit it. That promotes the weight transfer we’re all looking for. Watch good players like Lee Westwood and Stenson hitting a three wood, they ‘step’ into it to give them that power.
PhotographsPhotograph by First Kristina Lastname Nabieva july/august 2017 golfdigestme. com
golfdigestme. com july/august 2017