Bet­ter Irons

Be­come a GIR ma­chine

Golf Digest Middle East - - Contents - BY RAYHAN THOMAS

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

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