The Keys To One-Club Golf
By Kickntrue on 9/18/08
I figured I'd use this morning to participate in my own contest- The One Club Challenge. I'm not sure I'm allowed to win anyway so I decided to pass on what I learned so you could beat my score and have a chance to win the thing.

I learned a heck of a lot this morning. After a rough front 9 I closed with a 47 with almost half of that coming on the putts. I hit every fairway on the back and hit over 40% of the greens in regulation- all while using only my 7 iron.

5 Tips To Shooting A Good Score With One Club

1) Use a 7 or 8 iron. You need at least 150 yards off the tee to have a chance.

2) Bump and Run. Once you get your first or second shot within range of the green (less than a full shot with your club of choice) it's all about the bump and run.

3) Course Management Matters. When I hit my Driver- I bomb away and then deal with it from there. When you get into Bump and Run mode- you have to start choosing to take the best path towards the green. There were a couple times I was a great distance away but had to go for open spaces instead of trying to get lucky over bunkers and rough. A couple times I did get lucky with rough and sand, but it's not a healthy way to live.

4) Blade Your Putts- I tried a couple methods of putting. The best by far was to use the bottom edge of the club and try to get the ball rolling smooth. The funny thing is- when you do it right- it feels as pure if not more pure than your putters. You "feel" everything.

5) Don't overswing. This may be the hardest thing to overcome. You have to take your normal swing until you get in range to get creative. On the front nine I was trying to kill the ball off the tee for extra distance. It ended up costing me 3 penalty strokes and a couple terrible shots. On the back- I just played smooth and then dealth with getting up and down once I got within range. The results were pretty clear.

5 Things I Learned
1) I'm a Better Golfer this Afternoon Than I was This Morning- This was REALLY fun and challenging. Once I got over trying to swing my guts out- it became me against the length of the course and how I could manage that with my 7 iron. The creativity involved around the greens was pretty intense too. I have more shots in my bag now than I did before. I was purposly having to play bunker shots as bump and runs and hiting rockets off a bank to try to get them to shoot up high into the air and stop. It didn't always work- but now when I'm playing with my full bag- I'll have more confidence in creative situations.

2) Fairways Really Matter- Once I started taking smooth shots off the tee and hitting fairways (100% on back 9) the game became a lot easier. I was hitting greens, or at least close to them once I was hitting 2nd shots from the fairway instead of bad lies in the rough.

3) Course Management Not Distance- Here is a depressing thought... I'm convinced after doing this that I'd shoot my normal scores (low 90's) with a 7i, 56 degree wedge and my putter. I lost a lot of strokes because I didn't have a wedge- but I didn't lost many at all because of distance. There were only 3 or 4 par fours where I didn't even have a shot at the green. Of course some of that is the length of the course- but the lesson is still the same. Distance is overrated. Add a Hybrid to that mix (Hy, 7i, W, Putter) and I'd shoot better scores than I do now. So why don't I?

4) People are into the idea. I was paired with random partners. They were all into my game as much as their own. They were trying to give me advice and tips on how the course was laid out and how I could attack and approach the setup.

5) I Could Do Better- If I had another shot at this I think I could shoot mid-90s. I wouldn't want to play a course much over 6200 yards or so but once I got the hang of it It really wasn't much different (other than putting). The key to shooting a really good score with one club is mastering the putting and chipping using your iron.

Either way- until someone else steps up- I'm the leader in the clubhouse. I hope some of you guys are going to make this happen this month. Not only is it a fun variation- but I honestly think you'll understand what I mean when I say it made me better, even in just one round.

Challenge Extended...

[ comments ]
jsfain says:
Couple of points:
1. My club in Simsbury, CT ran a 3-club tournament where one of the clubs had to be a putter - they didn't want damage to greens.

2. I remember way back when that the pros had a 1-club challenge and their club of choice was a 4-iron; remember seeing Seve play soft shots out of greenside bunkers, just awesome.

3. In the winter I only carry a partial set, get to learn a lot about your game.

Goods luck...Julian.
player says:
ha ha u 4 putted
JWHpurist says:
You learned a great deal. Most players don't understand that a person must be able to play their blades properly before they pickup a Wood and hit it properly. My choice for a 1 club round would be a #6 iron. Choice for a 3 club round would be #5,SW,putter. To create amusement with my playing partners I remove all my woods from the bag and play a round blades only! That playing set is #1-#9,4 wedges,&putter(stiff steel,strongback tour blades) and at times have allowed me to post lower scores than my companions! Some of those guys have never seen a #1 iron or hit one! My #1 carries 250. That is great fun, try it sometime. JWHpurist
Tim Horan says:
Just prior to this article The Wedge Guy did a post on managing your lay-ups and I had three club and putter competition at my home is my spin on things. I played a three club and putter competition over nine holes off the competition tees and the results were really unexpected. Using a 2 wood (strong 3), six iron and 52 degree wedge plus putter I scored a creditable 20 points off 10 hcp. Limiting the clubs in the bag really hones your shotmaking skills- example Par 5 520yds, usual game plan - Driver, 21 degree rescue wood, chip and two putt. Last night 2wood, 6iron, full 52 degree wedge from 105yds and single putt. In the nine holes I packed in 5 full wedge shots 95 - 105 yds by managing not only lay-ups but also club selection from the tee (450 yds - 2 x 6 iron to leave a full wedge). Great fun and real eureka moment!
Thorre says:
Why not use a high lofted hybrid?
H Head says:
I played College golf in the 70's in New York, and we played "onesies' (just 1 Club for all shots) all the time for a few bucks. It most definitely made me a better player by making me play more within myself, and to think outside the box much more. My club of choice was the 5 or 6 iron depending on the wind. Back in my 'younger' days I could pop that 5 iron 195-205. Amazing when you have to, you can fan a 5 wide open and blast out of a trap!!! Lots of fun ....
The_Golf_Geek says:
I played in a one club challenge whilst at my in-laws, as I thought it would at very least be a good exercise in creativity. I scored 26 points, my highest total in a Stableford. I used my 24 degree hybrid, a club I use a lot around the green with a putting stroke. I should have had a higher total as I missed some easy putts but this was down to a decelarating stroke and definately my fault rather than the putters. Will definately try the 4 club challenge too. I also belive that I'm a better golfer than I was prior to this tournament, although some might assert that would not have been too difficult!
Mousermag says:
3, 6, 9, and Putter in a small bag is my choice for everyday golf. It's just so much fun and challenging. I used to play with only a 2 iron. At first people think you're loony when walking the course without a bag. But when they see your pars on difficult holes it intrigues them. Yes, 6 iron only is fun also - you become a bump & run expert. Greatest joy, you're nearly always shooting from the fairways. The few, the proud, the one-club golfers.
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