Hard '8' Or Easy '7'?
One of the nuances of this game is that you are rarely faced with an approach shot that is "textbook" to your standard yardage with any iron. Most approach shots fall somewhere "in between" clubs, due to yardage, wind, elevation or other factors. In order to play your best golf, you have to be able to 'dial in' those distances that fall in between your textbook yardages. (I'm assuming you know what those are, OK?)

This topic for today is in response to a question from Eric E., a regular reader of The Wedge Guy, who asked;
Hi, I have a question about iron shots. When you are "in between clubs," do you find it is more optimal to hit, say, a "hard 7," rather than an "easy 8?" I find that I often have trouble hitting the "easy" shots consistently well because I am not taking a full, normal swing. All else being equal (i.e. you are not worried about being a bit long rather than a bit short, etc), what is the best way to play these shots?
Well, Eric, thanks for reading The Wedge Guy, and sending in your question. Because I selected yours for today's column, you’ve won an EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge of your choice. With every wedge or set we ship, we include a complimentary copy of our booklet, "The SCoR Method – A Simple Way To Achieve Precision In Your Short Game." (The book is also available for $9.95 from EIDOLON Golf). I wrote this little tome to share my philosophy and method for hitting the “in between” shots, not just with every club in your bag.

The SCoR Method guides you through the process of learning your exact yardages with each club, and further dissecting that by altering your hand position on the grip – ½” down, 1” down, etc. It’s built around the simple fact that distance is affected by loft and club length, and you can vary the distance a shot flies by altering either. Irons are typically ½” shorter as you progress from the 3 to the PW. And the loft typically changes by 4* between clubs. So, if you grip down on any club by ½”, you’ve made the length of the next shorter club. Your normal swing will produce a shot that goes not quite as far, logically, and will generally fall somewhere close to halfway between the two normal distances.

This is a very simple methodology to learn and makes hitting in between shots so much easier. I never liked trying to hit any iron shot “hard”, and throttling back swing speed proves difficult for many recreational players. The SCoR Method simplifies the process. Here are some footnotes to this method:

1. When you grip down on the next longer club, you usually get a lower ball flight that when you hit that same club or the next shorter club“full”.
2. You can further alter ball flight by gripping down and opening the clubface a bit. Be sure to aim more left if/when you do this.
3. Gripping down on the next longer club, or even two clubs longer is a great way to hit boring, lower-spinning shots into the wind. I often grip down a 5-iron by an inch or more, when the shot would be a normal 7.

One more thing . . . you will very likely find that gripping down on the club actually improves your accuracy considerably . . . and that’s not a bad thing at all. Let me know how this approach to the “in between shots works for you, Eric, and congratulations on winning an EIDOLON wedge.


photo source
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.


[ comments ]
TravisMiller says:
I loved reading about the SCoR Method when i got my eidolon wedges. I just have not had the time to get it set up with my clubs. I also am right now in the processing of trying to choose from 4 sets of irons on which I want for my clubs of use.
9/7/10
 
DoubleDingo says:
That explains why my choked down shots with the longer club fly much lower. I kept expecting them to fly normal and was disappointed why I hit such low shots. Now I know what to expect.
I never received my SCor Method with my Eidolon wedge, and I even emailed asking for it. Sounds like a something a person can benefit from.
9/7/10
 
TeT says:
for a right handed player; Line your left foot up with your toes even with the instep of your right foot (move foot back dont open your stance) This reduces distance without altering the ball flight as much.
9/7/10
 
Banker85 says:
I never received the SCoR method either.

Anyways... agreed, easy 8 over hard 7 any day. this is one of my strong suits, i cant really work the ball left and right, but i can hit lower shots higher shots and i prefer hitting lower boring shots as i can predict the distance better.
9/7/10
 
birdieXris says:
yea i never got that book either, with my set of 3. :(
9/7/10
 
Tim Horan says:
Since reading the SCoR booklet I have re-gripped all my clubs (or rather had my new clubs gripped)with grips with distinct patterning to help with a more precise hand position. My observation - it works with wedge shots why not all shots? I have the same grips on hybrids and fairway woods as well primarily to assist with knock down shot making. My ball striking has improved generally as I have come away from thinking 150yds = 8 iron because I can and looked more at the conditions, terrain and the advantages of not sticking it up in the air.
9/7/10
 
Matt Otskey says:
I'm going to disagree with Banker in that I don't believe it's an easy 7 over a hard 8 any day. If I have 165 yards in, with trouble behind the green and about 15 yards in front of bailout area, I will probably try to max out my 8 iron and get it to go right about 165. Hitting the 8 guarantees I don't hit it over the green. Where if I hit the easy 7, and catch it a little too good, I'm over the green and in deep s**t. As the Wedge Guy referred to, there is no set playbook in golf. You play on a shot to shot basis and every situation is going to be different.
9/7/10
 
bducharm says:
Agree with @Matt. I always look for pin placement and where the trouble is. Pin in back, I will hammer the club that CAN get back there but will USUALLY leave me in the middle of the green. Pin up front, I will hit the longer club and leave that margin of error for the middle to back of the green as well.
9/7/10
 
birdieXris says:
2nd Matt's plays. I used that formula to a "T" (no pun intended) all last week. If the pin was in the back at the yardage, i would take what may have an error to the fat of the green. Likewise if it was in the front. I found myself hitting a lot of cut and draw shots too to subtract/add yardage to shots.
9/7/10
 
TeT says:
Ill take in front of green everytime over side or back.... If I could remember that on the course I would shave at least 6 strokes on that alone...
9/7/10
 
DiC says:
Same here for not getting the book with my wedge (ok so the wedge was free, as my question was chosen on this blog but should I still have got one?) on the subject of choking down, I very often favour a longer iron with a choked down grip and a 75 - 85% swing length (not 75% POWER may I point out) I can vouch for this making me far more accurate than trying to hit many FULL shots.
9/7/10
 
windowsurfer says:
I agree with the course management comments (don't risk hitting a soft 7 *over* the green if there's trouble back there) but, I like to force myself to get the ball up to the hole, even if it does mean some downhill putts. Paul Goydos notwithstanding ("Don't hit stuuupid shots.") I hate hitting it short over and over, cuz I am "playing smart". Know what I mean?
9/7/10
 
Banker85 says:
@Matt: If I am in the situation you described I would probably do the same. I was saying if I had the option of the two I would more than likely hit the softer 7.
9/7/10
 
wedgeguy says:
Guys, please accept my group apology for the failure to include the SCoR Method book in your orders. Please email whitley@eidolongolf.com with your name and mailing address, EIDOLON Order # if you remember it, and we'll get those right out. Thanks.
9/7/10
 
cjgiant says:
I know everyone gets the concept, but if your choice is an "easy 8" versus a "hard 7", your irons are probably numbered backwards.
9/7/10
 
eventHorizon says:
normal difference in loft between irons = 4*
average distance = 10 yards

To be in-between clubs I'm guessing you are talking right at the 5 yard point in between (say 8 iron = 150 yards, 7 iron = 160 yards and you are at 155 yards).

5 yards = ~15 feet

Who in here wouldn't be happy with a 15 foot putt for birdie? Forget about being in-between clubs and just swing it.
9/7/10
 
trikai says:
How about an 8 footer for an easy 7? What?
9/7/10
 
onedollarwed says:
I notice the mention of opening the clubface a bit to shorten and shape the shot a bit. Why not close the clubface and aim a little right with the 8? A little devil's advocacy here, hee hee hee. But seriously... I tend to play the ball back in the stance anyway and most often use a push-draw. Getting the ball back helps with solid "ball first" contact. Knowing the gentle draw - especially with irons can be great in the wind (and is usually lower).
While I'm not advocating these as yardage adjustments per say, but being aware of ball postion as it may change from lie/stance, etc. can further isolate specific yardage adjustments. At the range, a hook 8 = a slice 5.
And I agree that it's ok to be a bit short in the 8, if it's a safe region (center of green, lay up between bunkers) and your yardage matches.
9/7/10
 
birdieXris says:
I think the one thing a lot of people are missing here is that the idea is to get the ball in a position to score- nomatter what your handicap is. Obviously a scratch player would go about this slightly differently than a 5 and they would differ from an 18. The theory is the same. Someone much wiser and better at the game than I said once. "everyone's good shots are good. that's what makes them "good shots", the separation is how bad are your bad shots". The game between a "hard 8 or easy 7" is what will happen when you hit the shot bad. If the pin is in the front, after all things are considered, you should pick a club that worst case scenario will NOT fly the green. In this case, say a full swing 7 iron will go all the way to the back portion of the green if you swing full, but an easy 7 will take you just past the pin. That's the club to play then. If you hit it too hard, you'll be on the green. If you hit it a little softer than you'd like, there's a good chance you're still on the green....
9/8/10
 
birdieXris says:
With a shorter swing you're less likely to hit it offline whereas -- with a full 8, though it might be on the number, there's little chance you'll error to the fat of the green (behind the pin) and much more of a chance you'll chunk it, hit it maybe a little softer than you'd like, slice or hook it. All because of trying to get more out of it than you should. Sure you're in front of the green in the short grass, but personally, i'd rather be putting from 20 or 30 feet than chipping from the same distance. I've never gotten antsy and chunked a putt. To score in golf, you have to take a deep breath and have a reality check and say "what are the chances IIIIIIIIII am going to hit this EXACTLY like i want to?" Thats' ME the 6 handicapper - or whatever number you might be. Take the stress out of the shot and you're going to hit it better more often.
9/8/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Yeah... trying to hit harder than a normal full swing can be dangerous - weird things happening with footing, rhythm, etc. I tend to have a more forcefull full swing than most people, I think - and so swinging a little harder is no big deal. Some of my friends try "easy" swings, but I don't think they do well with that. I see them decellerating.

Like many times on this site, there are more consistant ways of making good shots - shortening, gripping down, simplifying approach. Why make it hard on yourself? Well, we experts at that! Hah! It's just really hard to have a high level of self awareness and feedback in golf.

I have a relative who bails out something fierce with an awfully severe reverse pivot. All his shots are weak, extreme slices. As I watch his swing, the left foot flies up on the downswing and steps about a foot or two left. Pointing this out does no good. How do we build the awareness we need?
9/8/10
 
birdieXris says:
@onedollarwed - my father does that, so does the guy he plays with. It's an instinctive move not to get hurt. Sometimes when people aren't flexible, they make odd "gate type" moves like that to help themselves better process the swing "without getting hurt". oddly enough, stuff like that leads to injury, as my dad says his knees are bothering him now.
9/8/10
 
meatball413 says:
all I saw in this string of comments was..."waaah I won a free golf club but didnt get a free book, waaaah". Man up.
9/8/10
 
TravisMiller says:
@meatball413 I hope you don't golf with any of those guys. :)
9/8/10
 
nate94gt says:
Hard 8 or easy 7? Easy. that answer is a simple question: is it better to be long or short?
9/8/10
 
stedar says:
The in-between clubs is always difficult. It is not that the green isn't big enough. It's more about where the balls needs to be in relation to flag placement. An 8 or 7 is no-where as difficult for me as a SW or P wedge. I find the yardage difference is a lot more difficult from 110 in. And then there's the 10' chips from the front of the green - I don't even want to go there. The grass is a challenge, how the ball is "sitting" is never the same.
Anyway, I'm moving off topic.
If you have to chose between a 7 or 8 to hit the target, go for safety first as so many have already advised. If you are safe long, then go 7, if long is bunker territory, then definitely the 8. Trust in the putter once you're on the green. (good article on putting via Fore Play if you haven't read it yet :-)
9/8/10
 
stedar says:
Sorry - Putting article is not Fore Play - it is Columns....
9/8/10
 
SteveS says:
@$1 & birdieX - I experienced this same thing myself for some time due to arthritis. I have limited flexibility in my left ankle which caused me to "bail" or cause me to have what I call "happy feet" during the swing. I take lessons on occasion, and my instructor suggested that I flare both feet out at address in about the same amount to ease the stress on the ankle; I must say that it worked. My feet stay put during the swing is much more relaxed. This also helps with knee problems as well.
9/9/10
 
birdieXris says:
@meatball413 -- actually, i didn't win a free wedge, i bought a set of 3.
9/9/10
 
paddy01 says:
One thing I'd add to this is ability. For me as a (very) novice golfer I will always play 1 club more than I need i.e. if at 165 yds was max for me with an 7 then I'd take a 6. Simply because at my ability level the chances of me hitting the sweet spot of the club time after time and making 165 with the 7 are minimal. By taking that extra club I'm giving myself a margin of error, particularly if there's a hazard short of the green. It also means that I'm not psychologically trying to rip the skin off the ball with every shot and so I swing easier and more consistent.

Occasionally yes I'll play a really nice shot and will go a bit long, but for every time that has happened I've played 10 not so good shots and come up short by trying to play exact yardage with max club distance when really there was no need to.
9/9/10
 
Matt Otskey says:
@paddy01

You along with others have brought up good points about skill level. Personally, if I have a short iron in my hands, 7-PW, and I try to max them out, I will usually strike it with lots of consistency. Maybe 70% it will get back to the distance I need it to, and 30% of the time it will come up short or a little off target.

Play to your strengths, and know your weaknesses.
9/10/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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