Newsletter: How To Improve Your Golf Game Part 3: Driver Accuracy
In this video I’ll address a different game issue: determining distances for irons.
As you see from the video, my philosophy is to find the average carry yardage for each iron using a full, normal, comfortable swing. The reason I choose the words “normal” and “comfortable” is because these are swings I can make with confidence.
Here’s what is different about this type of practice: My goal is to develop a swing I can repeat. Even though I am hitting at targets, my goal is not necessarily to hit the targets. Rather, I determined the distance of the target using my range finder, and I use the target as simply a distance marker. When I hit my 10-ball sets with one iron at the target, I make my repeatable swing and then plot (on a piece of paper) how far each shot carries. I mark the carry distance relative to the target.
At the end of a 10-ball set I have a dispersal pattern from which I can extract my average distance. I typically draw a rough circle around all the landing spots, make an X through the middle of the circle, and that tells me the average carry distance for that club.
The picture show an example plotting the results for a sand wedge, and two different swings – a full swing and a 3/4 swing. Each grouping represents 10 shots toward a target.
Note from the picture that the full sand wedge shot travels a maximum of about 104 yards and a minimum of about 85 yards. The average, however, is 94 yards.
One of the biggest mistakes made by amateur golfers is Underclubbing (and you’ll hear this comment from just about every pro who has been paired with an amateur in a ProAm). When you see a sample diagram like this picture you might understand why underclubbing is so prevalent.
The diagram shows clearly that the golfer CAN hit a sand wedge 104 yards. But it also shows clearly that he only hits this distance 20% to 30% of the time. The farthest distance represents the ideal shot carry distance, and unfortunately too many amateurs pick a club based on hitting that perfect shot. Since the average distance is 94 yards, planning for an ideal shot will leave this golfer – on average – 30 feet short of the hole! He’s not going to make very many of those 30-foot putts.
When selecting a club for a shot this golfer would be far better off planning on hitting his “average” distance. He needs to take into account any trouble long or short of the hole, because he tends to hit just as many short of his average as he does long, and select a club that will get him safely on the green. But plotting the landing pattern and then determining the average carry distance like this example would save this golfer a number of strokes each round.
My goal as I determine my carry distance for my mid-irons is to undergo a similar process. I pick my target to use as a distance marker, then hit my 10-ball set with my 7-, 8-, and 9-irons, making a repeatable swing. I plot where each ball lands, then find the average distance. I repeat the process with a 3/4 swing (for wedges) and a knock-down swing for mid-irons.
It’s a fun process, and the results may surprise you. But I guarantee it will pay big dividends on the course. I hope you’ll give it a shot.
Here are links to the entire High Performance Golf Newsletter Series. If you haven’t seen the videos I recommend you start with the first post on establishing performance baselines. Click the link below to get started, then look for the links at the bottom of each post to continue with the next video:
High Performance Golf: Establishing a Performance Baseline
High Performance Golf: Scorecard Analysis and Setting Priorities
High Performance Golf: Driver Accuracy Practice (part 1)
High Performance Golf: Driver Accuracy Practice (part 2)
High Performance Golf: Determining Mid-Iron Carry Distance
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