Golf Tips

One swing, fourteen clubs
I am sure we have all heard the statement

one swing, 14 clubs

too many times. But what does it mean? How can we swing at a
ball with a sand wedge when the ball is close to us and swing the
same with a three iron when the ball is further away? The angle
that your club attacks the ball will be different because of the
length of the club, but the way you swing and the tempo you create
are or should be the same. The thing I see as a golf instructor and
have been guilty of myself is swinging different clubs faster in
order to hit it farther. A tour player will play golf swinging at
about 80 percent. If a longer drive on a par five will give them a
chance to get home in two, they will swing at 100 percent at that
time, then back to 80.
One swing, fourteen clubs

I am sure we have all heard the statement “one swing, 14 clubs” too many times. But what does it mean? How can we swing at a ball with a sand wedge when the ball is close to us and swing the same with a three iron when the ball is further away? The angle that your club attacks the ball will be different because of the length of the club, but the way you swing and the tempo you create are or should be the same. The thing I see as a golf instructor and have been guilty of myself is swinging different clubs faster in order to hit it farther. A tour player will play golf swinging at about 80 percent. If a longer drive on a par five will give them a chance to get home in two, they will swing at 100 percent at that time, then back to 80.

I will give you an example. A friend of mine (a top club pro in our section) was playing in a tournament with Johnny Miller. My friend had up to this point been driving the ball as far as Johnny was and felt pretty good about it (my friend was about 25 years younger than Johnny). When they came to the 12th hole, Johnny turned to him and said, “With a good drive here you can get home in two.” When he stepped up and drove the ball, my friend said that Miller kicked it into another gear, a gear my friend didn’t have. He was out- driven by almost 35 yards. A tour player can change gears; the rest of us should try and limit changing.

I will give you a way to prove to yourself that you can play with the same tempo with most clubs. After you are completely warmed up at the driving range, take out your nine iron and hit some shots. At the moment of impact start counting and keep counting until the ball hits the ground. Next take out your five iron and repeat the same procedure. You will find that the ball will hit the ground at about the same number.

So what? So this: Barring wind resistance, a nine iron shot and a five iron shot will stay in the air practically the same amount of time. This should help prove to you, be it somewhat of a roundabout way, that there is little sense in hitting one club harder than another. Ben Hogan, a tireless experimenter, discovered this same thing on the practice tee. “The secret to the long irons,” he once confided to another pro, “is to hit them with the same tempo as the short irons.”

Congratulations to Jim McCarley. He was the first to e-mail me that 1927 was the first Ryder Cup. He wins a free videotaped golf lesson. Next week I will have a new question for you (South Valley readers check the newspaper web site on Thursday morning). If you have any golf related questions, from rules to club fitting, e-mail me at [email protected] Or, if you would like to read some of my past tips, you can do so at www.pinnaclenews.com. And don’t forget, if you’re not having fun call your local PGA or LPGA instructor. We will help, that’s what we love to do.

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