Trajectory Is The Key To Shotmaking
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at email@example.com.
Being raised in Ben Hogan country of South Texas, and having been the Marketing Director at Hogan in the mid-1990s, I am a strong disciple of Mr. Hogan’s. One of his proclaimed beliefs about the golf swing was that the key to shotmaking was controlling the trajectory of your shots, particularly with your irons. If you didn’t know the flight path of the ball, Mr. Hogan reasoned, then you had no idea how far it was going to go.
Tiger Woods is one of the masters in this area now. With his re-tooled swing, he knows exactly how the ball is going to leave the club almost all the time. There was a TV commercial where he was hitting balls through windows on different floors of an office building – and he was really doing it!!! That’s trajectory control!
I also read a quote from one of the Champions Tour players a few months ago – wish I’d saved it – where in response to a question about hitting good iron shots, he replied, “Hit your short irons and wedges low, everything else high”. A simplification for sure, but if you watch the tour players, you rarely see them hitting these towering short irons and wedges. Their shots take off like a bullet on a very controlled trajectory – not too high, not too low.
Amateurs I watch, however, tend to hit their short irons and wedges into the stratosphere, where the wind can do anything to the ball and where they have little distance control. One key to hitting your scoring clubs on a more controllable trajectory is to take my earlier advice and hit them “softer”, taking 10-15 yards off what you think is a “full” 8-iron or pitching wedge. Try that for a while and see if your shotmaking and distance control doesn’t get better.
One of the best tips for hitting those more piercing trajectories is also to lighten up your grip and relax your arms – a lot! Feel the rotation of your body core lead everything through impact, so that the hands are ahead of the clubhead as you go through the ball. Try this on very short half swing pitches on the range – very relaxed arms and grip, with a smooth move through the ball – NOT AT IT! Feel the clubhead trailing the grip, hands, arms and body core. As you get comfortable with this nice piercing trajectory, gradually lengthen the swing and speed up the body core rotation with successive groups of shots, and watch the ball fly further, but still with the same piercing trajectory. When you get to a point where it starts flying higher and higher, back off. You’ve gone beyond a “full” swing with a short iron or wedge.
If you know how to control your trajectory, your shotmaking with the scoring clubs will become awesome. I’ll have more on the equipment side of this in a few days.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
(originally written 4/3/2007)
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I love my flopadopalis but I have found much greater accuracy with the lower flight. I'll have to keep mental note of some of the tips. Just last weekend back to back holes had a 9 iron 128 yard to green, first shot a full flyer behind the green. The second a controlled low trajectory, green pulling, 3 foot to birdie shot. Most guys use the pitch for this range. Soft, easy, and controlled.
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