Lessons From A Tour Pro
I had the opportunity to play golf yesterday with David Lundstrom, a former Champions Tour player and one of the top senior pros in Texas. David was the top qualifier for the Champions Tour in about 2000, and played four years out there until injuries forced him off. He’s a helluva player at 64 years old. He hits it long and makes the golf ball do pretty much whatever he wants.
The purpose of our outing was to show David the pre-production samples of the new scoring clubs we will be introducing next month under the brand name SCOR. There is a litany of product features and benefits that change the “wedge” category completely in this product called “4161”. You’ll be seeing the full story and product when we announce it later this month. But for now, this story is about learning more about golf from the way a tour professional plays the game.
David’s process for testing this set of scoring clubs was to put them through the paces at all ranges with all kinds of shots. It was interesting to watch him hit 40 yard wedge shots with a low draw, higher fade, and varying amounts of spin – all with the same club! Even better amateurs do not show the command of the golf ball that tour professionals have. But I think this was more about age and seasoning, too. David grew up with the old blade irons of the 50s and 60s, and has progressed through the technological evolution of the past 50 years. He expressed how his approach to playing and shotmaking has evolved with this progression, but he never lost the ability to make the golf ball do whatever he wanted it to do.
He told me that many of the younger players – whom he regularly beats in mini-tour events, by the way – don’t show the interest in learning how to do all kinds of things with a golf ball. Most of them just want to hit full shots, as far as they can, for the most part, and try to pound the golf courses into submission with their power. In David’s opinion, learning the physics of what you can do with a golf ball my varying different elements of your swing makes you a better player. I’d have to agree.
In contrast, I had a visit with a mini-tour player who’s playing EIDOLON wedges and we were talking about his distances in an effort to arrive at his proper “prescription” for scoring clubs. He told me he hits the ball very high, so he had his 8-iron strengthened two degrees, and hits it on average 168 yards! So I asked him if he could hit that 8-iron 185-190 if he had to – to which he replied “no way!” I explained that Mr. Hogan always said you should have 15-20 yards in reserve with every club in his bag, and published his avg/min/max yardages with all his clubs in his first book – Power Golf.
My advice to this player was to swing easier to see his trajectories come down, and bring his average distance with that 8-iron down to about 150. I guaranteed he’d be a better player for it. He said that made a lot of sense and that he’d work on it, so we’ll see.
I’ll leave you with this thought as we all watch the U.S. Open unfold this weekend. My bet is that the trophy will go to a player who isn’t as long as the big guns, and who exhibits creativity in club selection and shotmaking. Will be interesting, for sure.
Have a great weekend, and don’t miss the chance to win a new EIDOLON wedge by participating in our contest on our FaceBook page.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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I have to agree with Terry on this one. Most of the younger players i've seen have OK right to left control and decent spin control, but they don't know how to hit high or low. Every 160 yard shot was hit with the same club at the same trajectory. i Know a few young players that are an exception, but i'm speaking on the whole of ones that i've played with and met on the course. the only way to get better and shoot lower is to pick the course apart. Literally. I had a discussion with a guy i met on the course about 18 at crossgates. 4 iron, 4 iron 7 iron does just as well as driver 9 iron 8 iron - and you won't get in trouble with it. Play the percentages and play a shot.
Having 15-20 yds in reserve benefits the golfer in 2 key areas:
1. Consistency. IT much easier to control the results of a swing at 80% vs at 95-100%
2. Trajectory control. If you have 15-20 yds per club in reserve; this allows you to determine club selection based on the desired ball trajectory. A 150 yd shot to an elevetad green requires a different trajectory than a 150 yd shot from an elevated tee box down to the green.
That just made me think of Luke Donald. Two things I've heard about his game for sure: 1. His iron play is one of the best, and 2. He is not at all long by tour standards. His being ranked no. 1 should serve as some kind of model / evidence some of Terry's oft talked about topics here.
Well this weekend sure showed this post backfiring: www.oobgolf.com/content/the+wedge+guy/5-4595-Ror
Rory just shot the lowest US open 4 rounds ever. He did it with the best iron play that's ever been seen as well as insanely precise and long driving. SO I guess his idea of not caring as much about short game is working all right.
Also, Rory was driving it past D Johnson and Mickelson all day, that sounds like a big gun to me. He also exhibited nearly 0 creativity in club selection and shot making. Phil was creative all day long and finished nowhere. If you have to be creative you're doing things wrong. Your ideas of working on the short game are obviously important, but Rory is right that if he hits all the greens it doesn't matter. And his putting looked ok to me, with 1 3 putt in 4 rounds. :)
My cousin is a Master PGA Pro, and he told me the story when he was a young kid caddying at the local course. He and some of the other young caddies used to tell the Club Pro one day they would be good enough to beat him, and his reply was - I'll beat you kids with one club. One summer, the boys all got big/strong enough to finally have the distance to regularly shoot in the 70s/80s, which they figured was enough to beat the Club Oro with just one club. The challenege was made, and accepted. Pro grabs his 7 iron and beat them all by 2-3 strokes or more. My cousin said that day changed his understanding of the game forver. Hooding a club, laying it open, intentionally blading it, etc. Also a lot about pressure - all the kids wilted once the pro started hitting these shots and sticking it inside them regularly.
I can't do all those things, but someday maybe. For now, my biggest goal is trying to be able to work the ball in both directions.
@carbod - youre right. I never understood why you need to do all of this fancy stuff the the shape of your shot if you can hit it straight and accurate anyway. Why curve it around a trap if you can just drop it over the trap? Just aiming left if you want to counter a left to right wind sounds alot easier to me than trying to draw it. But I guess this has an appeal to all of the people that can't hit it very far.
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