Trajectory Is The Key To Shotmaking
Ben Hogan

Being raised in the Ben Hogan country of South Texas, and having been the Marketing Director at Hogan in the mid-1990's, I am a strong disciple of Mr. Hogan's teachings.

One of his proclaimed beliefs about the golf swing was that the key to shotmaking was controlling the trajectory of your shots, particularly with your irons. If you didn't know the flight path of the ball, Mr. Hogan reasoned, then you had no idea how far it was going to go.

Tiger Woods is one of the masters in this area now. With his re-tooled swing, he knows exactly how the ball is going to leave the club almost all the time. 

There was a TV commercial where he was hitting balls through windows on different floors of an office building - and he was really doing it !!! That's trajectory control !

I also read a quote from one of the Champions Tour players a few months ago - wish I'd saved it - where in response to a question about hitting good iron shots, he replied, " Hit your short irons and wedges low, everything else high. "

A simplification for sure, but if you watch the Tour players, you rarely see them hitting these towering short irons and wedges. Their shots take off like a bullet on a very controlled trajectory - not too high, not too low.

The amateurs I watch, however, tend to hit their short irons and wedges into the stratosphere, where the wind can do anything to the ball and where they have little distance control.

One key to hitting your scoring clubs on a more controllable trajectory is to take my earlier advice and hit them "softer", taking 10-15 yards off what you think is a "full" 8-iron or pitching wedge. Try that for a while and see if your shotmaking and distance control doesn't get better.

One of the best tips for hitting those more piercing trajectories is to lighten up your grip and relax your arms - a lot !

Feel the rotation of your body core lead everything through impact, so that the hands are ahead of the clubhead as you go through the ball.  Try this on very short half swing pitches on the range - very relaxed arms and grip, with a smooth move through the ball - NOT AT IT !

Feel the clubhead trailing the grip, hands, arms and body core. As you get comfortable with this nice piercing trajectory, gradually lengthen the swing and speed up the body core rotation with successive groups of shots, and watch the ball fly further, but still with the same piercing trajectory.

When you get to a point where it starts flying higher and higher, back off. You've gone beyond a "full" swing with a short iron or wedge.

If you know how to control your trajectory, your shotmaking with the scoring clubs will become awesome.

I'll have more on the equipment side of this in a few days.
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[ comments ]
Mike says:
Hey Terry,

It seems to me like that quote was from Allen Doyle.

He seems to control his trajectory well, he's not one of the longer players out there, yet he's made a boatload of cash and has numerous wins ... even though he limps and is past his supposed prime.

Maybe you're right ?
John B says:
I have been trying this technique early this season, it is quite difficult to accomplish consistently.
I think that amateur golfers get used to watching all of those Mickelson flop shots and figure that the rest of the irons should follow suit.
wedgeguy says:
To John B, Nothing in golf is easy, as we all know, but this technique isn't all that hard if you focus on one central key -- swing easier. If you are going at the ball hard, it is very difficult to get the timing of all things going on down correctly. To learn to hit shots like this, start with soft pitches and gradually work your way up to "full" shots. At some point of effort, you will find that your trajectories go higher, but the ball really doesn't fly further. That's where you back off just a bit to re-define your concept of a "full shot". See if that doesn't help a lot.
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