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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A Go-To Club

I played with Ken today.  He informed me that he had recently played with nothing stronger than his six iron.  Ken had hurt his ribs and decided to use no more than a six iron to prevent any further injury while he recovers.  He played nine holes a few days earlier and shot, what for him was a respectable 46.  

It was decided that I would also use no more than a six iron and we set out to play a match with me giving him a stroke a hole (Ken has only recently started playing).   It was a lovely day, and after being permitted to play through a foursome on number four, we played in three hours.  

No balls were lost.  No time was spent in the woods or the deep fescue looking for errant tee shots.  It was very enjoyable.  In the end, Ken made a par three on the last hole to square the match.  Ken had a couple of disaster holes, struggled with his chipping, and still shot 101, which, for him, is pretty much the same score he has been making using all his clubs.  I shot 81 with nothing worse than bogey.  Neither of us played our best golf, but the round reinforced the fact that it is the short game that largely determines how well you score, and that there is a great deal of merit in putting the ball in play off the tee.

There were several unreachable par fours, but otherwise par was still a definite possibility if we chipped and putted well.  This round reinforced the truth of what Harvey Penick said.  The woods are full of long drivers, and a good putter is a match for anyone.  If you are struggling with your game, and are losing strokes off the tee, why not try using your six iron until you are hitting every fairway with it.

Once you can do that, try using your four iron or a hybrid off the tee until you can play a round without hitting that club in the woods.  You will learn that golf is easier, and much more enjoyable, from the short grass.  You will also find out just how much work your short game requires.  Harvey Penick wouldn't let his son in law use a wood for his first six months of playing the game.  He became a very strong player as a result.  

The fact is that most high handicappers lose the majority of their strokes off the tee and around the green.  Come to think of it, that's generally the case for all amateurs.  Ken now feels like his six iron is his "go-to" club; a club he can pull and feel confident about hitting a reasonably good shot.  It's great to have a go-to club.