Now that the weather has turned (for the most part) I have been enjoying getting outside and actually hitting some balls. Knowing that the next big improvement in scoring will come from an improved short game, almost all my time has been spent doing rifle barrels with wedge and 9 irons, and the little distance shots from 20-70 yards that require something less than a full swing. As we know, these shots are about distance control and accuracy and power does not come into play. I have been a proponent of the Pelz distance wedge system since I read the Short Game Bible years ago and know how far each of my four wedges fly for a each of a ¼, ½, and ¾ backswing. However my distance control from shot to shot has been inconsistent and the flight and divots indicate that I was not always attaining pro level action through impact. So I decided to work on an improved trail hand position. My goal in practice was simple maintain maximum trail hand extension (bent back) all the way through impact, and to take a divot forward of the ball position on every shot. My thinking was that if I could become consistent in maintaining the same amount of extension, then the distance control would become more a function of backswing length, as the trail hand would release with the same energy on every shot. Of course the side benefit of this training is improved trail hand position at impact on all other shots as well.
To start I placed almost all weight on my lead foot, then took a back swing that had my hands even with my trail thigh and hit down and through the ball finishing in rifle barrel. I hit four focusing thought on maximum trail hand bend, and four on clearkey. It took just a few sessions of 32 ball drills to see a big improvement in the quality of the strike and by the time I decided I was good they were all landing within a two foot radius about 30 yards out with my 9 iron. The repeatability of the distance was uncanny. This got me thinking so I took my 64 degree wedge and did the same thing - plop...plop...plop about 15 yards out in a real tight pattern. I started to get excited but I was outa time..to be continued.
Today, after my normal rifle barrel drills I decided to expand the backswing length. My hands went back just as far but this time I set Keystone. For non Bertholites this has the club level with the ground and parallel to the target line like this:
Today I was using my gap wedge and just repeated the drill from earlier focusing on maximum trial hand extension (backward bend), and following through to rifle barrel as before. Wow! Epiphany time! 50 yards into a brisk wind, EVERYTIME. A pattern of no more than about 9 feet total! I finished my 32 ball drill and then grabbed my 60 degree wedge and finished off my shag bag....again the distance repeatability was staggering. These shots were all done with my weight forward stance and involved no weight shift at all.
The thing that amazed me the most was the utter simplicity of the stroke and the very minimal effort required to make the ball fly the distance it did. My iron play has always been the weakest part of my game, and after the last two weeks work, and what I experienced the last two days, I am convinced that I have not been attaining a Bertholy / Pro standard of impact with my irons. I had lost distance on my irons (7 iron 155 -160 yds) last year and it was perplexing to me because I kill the ball off the tee and with my fairway woods, but my irons were weak and erratic. It was also puzzling to me because I can perform the golden exercise pretty damn good and couldn't understand why I wasnt getting more distance on my irons. I am encouraged by this result and plan on working diligently to improve that action of my claw through impact. I will continue to increase the length of my back swing until I run out of room on my short field, then I will have to head to the range to complete the training I guess. The good news is my driver will bust farther than ever too.
My new Keystone Distance Wedge shot now gives me four new highly repeatable distances I can rely on from 15 to 50 yards out.