Do We Try To Hit It Too Far?
As I mentioned last week, one of my favorite refreshers on my golf swing is to pick up my well-worn copy of Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. I also just added a vintage copy of his first book, Power Golf, which I practically grew up on. One of the more interesting sections of that book is his chapter on using the clubs in your bag. In that section, Hogan charted his regular, minimum and maximum yardage for each club in his bag.

What immediately blows you away is how short his “regular” distances were, and it causes you to pause a minute to digest what he’s written. He lists “regular” five-iron distance at 155 yards!

To understand this, first you have to realize that in length and loft, Hogan’s five-iron at that time was almost identical to the 7-iron in most bags today, and even the 8-iron in some of the ‘super game improvement’ irons. Taking that into consideration, his listed regular yardage of 155 isn’t so hard to imagine.

But what really set Hogan apart from the way most of us play the game today, is that he listed the “maximum” yardage for each club at 25 yards further than the “regular” yardage. 25 yards!!! So, while he considered 155 a regular five-iron shot, he could hit it 180 if he had to or wanted to. How much do you have in reserve behind each regular iron shot you hit? How many golfers do you know that have even an extra ten yards in reserve over what they consider “regular”?

All I can say is “hmmmmmmm”. Something to think about, huh?

The other interesting thing in this section of the book is his talk about his driver at 13-1/2 ounces. Modern drivers are all about 11 these days, with some pushing as low as 10-1/4 ounces. Imagine adding three full ounces to your driver, cutting 2-3 inches off of it, combining that with the golf balls they had in the 1940s . . . and still being able to hit drives of 300 yards or more!!! Hogan did it.

Back to that idea of having something in reserve in your irons. When you can get to the range, maybe the idea of throttling back considerably from what you consider “regular” distance with each club should be fully explored. What would happen to your scores if your iron play got measurably sharper this year?
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[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
My Iron is my Achilles heal, If I could hit 10 GIR I would consistently post in the low 70's I just know it perhaps even some high 60's oh the pain, lol
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
I can't tell you how many times I have taken an extra club, choked down, & hit the ball 7-8 yards further than my "normal" full shot distance. Drives me nuts but they are teachable moments for sure.
cvargo says:
As being fairly new to the game I have noticed that when I slow down and focus on just hitting the ball and smacking it, I tend to not have that disgusting fade or slice.
Niramas says:
When you try to smack it there is a tendancy to get the right side too active and the arms get ahead of the shaft of the club, opening the face. If you do this regularly you will sometimes overcompensate and the arms will get ahead of the body leading to a pull. Thus the dreaded and all too common "slice-or-pull" syndrome. Occasionally your hand-eye-coordination (compensation) will be right-on, leading to a great day.... but that is more due to luck than a good swing.
legitimatebeef says:
Yes Lord, I have sinned! I have been greedy, and vainglorious in my club selections. Too many times I have forsaken solid contact and reliable distance in a vain attempt to max out distance. Too many times Ive been blinded to the right club. Yea I am a sinner! But I am seeing the light. Training myself to throttle back on a normal swing. I want to hit it solid, I want to have that extra ten yards in reserve! Yea.

Great post Wedgeguy. You are preaching the gospel of solid golf, amen brother. Ben Hogan's 155 yard 5-iron has really given me something to think about. The same chart also lists a driver max of 300y--the old guy could definitely move his ball.
falcon50driver says:
He wasn't always old.
Banker85 says:
honestly i rarely go over 100%. I learned quickly that anytime i go for gusto contact is sub par and i am way off target line. I have never cared much about distance as much as accuracy. I can plot my way around a course without trying to smash the ball. I dont think it is possible to be consistent and a good ball striker if you try and kill it every shot.
stedar says:
Yep yep yep. Keeping something in reserve takes as much practice as giving it 100% As you tend to draw a slower shot (at least I do) meaning I probably have a fuller arc on the swing and cause it to go right to left. Found that giving it a little more I could get a slight fade, probably due to swinging closer and effectively outside - in. Great to know, but not always happening on demand :-) Golf, drives you crazy, yet am so addicted...
Dusty23 says:
One of the best tips I ever read was from Jack Nicklaus, he wrote that when you're standing in the fairway and looking at what you think is the perfect 8 iron, reach over to your bag and grab your 7.
DaRupp13 says:
My default common mistake (aside from swing adjustments like swing plane and balance transfer) is swinging too hard. If I'm ever not making contact well and the reasons are inconsistent, I always have to step back and swing slower. Usually ends up fixing the issue.
Tim Horan says:
With a swing speed of around 107mph with the driver I found that the X stiff shafts that were recommended felt like broom sticks. I have fitted Graphite Design AD YSQ Tour and YSQST Tour shafts to all of my woods and hybrids. These shafts have just the same amount of tip stiffnes (ST has stiffer tip) but allow you to feel the club head at the top by being softer in the middle and butt sections. This allows me to take my foot off the throttle a little and still maintain good distance. With the X Stiff and even some of the Stiff shafts I was having to hit full out to get any life out of the shaft. I now swing more rythmically at closer to 100mph. Smash factors (purity of strike)increased and any loss of distance is far out weighed by the accuracy. All shaft weights are graduated from driver at 65g to hybrids @ 85g adjusted during the build.
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