Masters Musings From The Wedge Guy

Well, another Masters has come and gone and for the second year in a row we saw a “first major” breakthrough by a young player. Congratulations to Trevor Immelman, who is quite apparently a very talented young man.

I love watching this tournament, maybe more than any other, because of how that golf course demands your very best in shotmaking. It's quite apparent that you cannot score this course from the wrong place on the greens, or if you're missing greens. But what is not so apparent is the importance of hitting fairways . . . and being in the right place in the fairway . . . to place your iron shot in those right spots.

Last year, the “big story” to me was the way Zack Johnson chose not to attack any of the par fives in two, but rather to rely on his wedge play to dissect them into birdies. And he led the field in birdies on par fives with 11 !!!

That’s playing smart. We also talked about Zach’s driving, as this “short hitter” – 157th on Tour in driving distance – was tied for 2nd in driving accuracy for the week, allowing him to hit greens, where he ranked tied for fourth.

Well, guys, accuracy over distance did it again !

Trevor Immelman was commended throughout the telecast about his ball striking, even emitting kudos from Gary Player that he has a swing like Hogan’s !  Now that’s an accolade, isn’t it ?

So, what Trevor did was drive it in the fairway – he led the field in that statistic. And he hit lots of greens, ranking second in that category. That allowed him to finish 3rd in total putts ! Guess what, if that’s not a formula for winning, I don’t know what is.

So, your lesson here is, again, learn to hit your driver straight, and this game becomes a lot easier. If you're hitting fairways, but leaving yourself too far from the greens, you are playing the wrong tees !

From my own experience, these 45 and 46 inch drivers are costing all of us strokes. I've been tweaking on mine for months, and have finally found that at just under 44”, I hit dramatically more fairways. So that’s where I play it. And you know what ? I haven’t noticed any drop off in distance whatsoever.

If you want to lower your scores, I strongly suggest you grip down on your modern “watermelon-sized” driver about two inches and watch what happens. I think you’ll be amazed at the improvement in your directional consistency, and how much more solid you hit it most of the time.

I’d like to hear from all of you about your “Master’s experience” and offer up questions you’d like me and the readers to sound off about.

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[ comments ]
Worth says:
Terry, I think you bring up an excellent point. For the 10 handicapper like myself, we are going to miss greens. The fact is we don't hit our irons as well as a pro and will miss more greens as a matter of course. In order to shoot lower scores, it is important to be in the short grass regardless of club selection off the tee. I know that my club invites you to hit driver on several holes where it is advisable to hit a 3 or 5 wood in order to be in the short grass. I would rather hit a 6-8 iron into a green from the fairway than I would trying to gouge a 9-iron - gap wedge from the deep bermuda rough we have. I have noticed my best rounds are good driving rounds that allow me to hit my second shots from good lies in the fairway which of course allows for a higher likelyhood of hitting the green or having a 'good' miss.
james says:
I just wanted to say i check out your website everyday. thanks for being here online!
toddmok says:
This is the exact part of my game I have been working on most. Hitting from the short grass and getting the best angle into the green have dropped my handicap at least 5 strokes.

And, as James said thanks for posting these little insights into this tough game. (We don't need more bloggers, we need more GOOD bloggers).
Pappy says:
Trevor Immelman not only drives it straight, but statistically he hits farther than most.

My experience is somewhat similar to yours , except that I went to the 3-wood. What I've gave up in distance has been made up for in accuracy. Now if I could get the short game together...
Steve says:
Exactly! I hit a 43-1/2" , 13* driver and hit 12 out of 14 fairways everytime. I am intrigued by your comment:
"If youGÇÖre hitting fairways, but leaving yourself too far from the greens, you are playing the wrong tees !" On most par 4's (say 400yds) I need 3 shots to hit the green. Your comment above suggests that the tee's you play should be based on getting to the green in regulation and not by handicap-I'm going to start playing the "right" tee's--Now if I can only convince the rest of my foursome (we all hit the ball the same distance) that we should play different tee's the rounds would be more enjoyable, however I don't think their ego's will allow them to.
Jonas says:
Steve you bring up a good point. I have a 45" inch driver, which I guess is the normal factory standard, and I have this habit of always holding the club right on the end of the grip.

I'm trying to force myself to choke down on the club but always end up holding the end of the grip. I guess this is very common for most golfers, some macho BS going on or something :D

Maybe the clever thing to do is just have the club shortened by an inch or so.

btw. Terry, kudos on your website. I always like reading your posts, very informative.
William Marshall says:
Terry, you are absolutely right as to the need to make changes - in this case a shorter driver shaft - for the average amatuer to stay in the fairway for better scores. There is some irony in a wedge expert sugguesting such a thing. It is the technology of which you are so committed which has allowed Tiger and his peers to make the average guy thing we can just bomb it and somehow get it to the green. The problem is they are so far above us it is not funny. As a seven handicap years ago I was always amazed how much better a one or two was than me and how much better - over four rounds even a lower level pro was than the club champion. The average person has no idea how exponential the skill level changes with golfer below about a ten handicap. And one of the biggest differences is in the short game. That is why I am on your site trying so decide how to integrate your system into my bag for the best results. Of course, it probably would help to be 30 again!
new2golf says:
OK Terry, I tried it. At first I'm thinking I don't need to grip down on my driver because I hit it pretty straight (though sometimes off line) and I usually hit my 3 wood unless I'm playing a more open course. Then I'm watching the Verizion Heritage and I see Anthony Kim gripping way down on almost all of his shots. Later at the range, I decide to try gripping down on the driver and I was quite impressed with the control I had. During my next round things were not going well for me till I remembered to grip down on the driver on the 12th hole. I righted the ship and finished at two strokes over my course handicap. The next day I played the same course and began the round gripping down on the driver. I finished five strokes under my course handicap.

I often adjust where I grip my irons for distance, but never the driver. Thanks for the tip! Sorry I was so slow to try it :-/

doug says:
I think it was Mark Calcaveccia that told a bunch of us a year or so ago , that we (amatuers) were crazy using 45" drivers.
Finlarden says:
Great comments so far. I am the same, I grip down on different clubs through my bag but I never grip down on the driver. I'm going to give it a try. I also find that my 3 wood is less accurate then my driver anyway??? It might just be me but the driver technology has moved in leaps and bounds over the past few years to be hitting longer and arguably straighter. For most golfers, the driver is an easier to hit club then a 3 wood. Now if gripping down on the driver helps with the accuracy it should be the best of both worlds. Better control with a longer hitting club head.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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