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Weekend Tip: Dufner's coach on why you need two swings

I was playing a quick nine the other evening after work with Golf Digest's Design Director, Ken DeLago. Ken is a very good player. He can flat-out crush his driver. He told me when he thinks of sweeping the ball on the upswing, he hits it long and true. That's his key thought. But I observed, after a couple of 280-yard pokes that found the center of the fairway, that he failed to get his wedge approach onto the green. Both times he hit them a little fat.

Finally, in frustration, Ken asked me why when you're hitting the driver well, the irons aren't so good, and vice versa. It reminded me of an article I once did with Golf Digest Teaching Professional Chuck Cook. Chuck came up with the theme: "Why You Need Two Swings."

Chuck coached Payne Stewart, Tom Kite and Corey Pavin in the 1990s and now teaches Jason Dufner. He told me that the ideal driver swing catches the ball slightly on the upswing, because the ball is teed. Also, the club ideally approaches the ball from slightly inside the target line. But short irons and wedges need a level to slightly descending blow. Why? Because the ball is now on the turf, and you want the club to strike the ball, then the ground. It's easier to do this if your path is straighter through and the club bottoms out just after contacting the ball.

Chuck said that when the top tour players go really low, their swings are balanced. They are hitting both the driver and the irons well. So if this sounds like something you'd like to achieve, try these two key thoughts for starters:

When setting up to your driver, tilt your shoulders a bit so the back one is lower than the front one. Also, look at the back of the ball throughout your swing. This will cause you to stay behind the ball better, creating that great ascending blow, which is ideal for the driver.

When setting up to your middle to short irons and wedges, keep your shoulders more level and look at the front of the ball throughout your shot. That will keep your weight more forward, resulting in a descending blow that's perfect for hitting crisp iron shots and pitches.

I hope these thoughts help your game this weekend, and let's hope Ken reads this blog. He's playing in a member-member tournament Saturday and Sunday. If he balances out his swings, he and his partner will be the odds-on favorites!

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman

target line. But short irons and wedges need a level to slightly descending blow. Why? Because the ball is now on the turf, and you want the club to strike the ball, then the ground. It's easier to do this if your path is straighter through and the club bottoms out just after contacting the ball.

Chuck said that when the top tour players go really low, their swings are balanced. They are hitting both the driver and the irons well. So if this sounds like something you'd like to achieve, try these two key thoughts for starters:

When setting up to your driver, tilt your shoulders a bit so the back one is lower than the front one. Also, look at the back of the ball throughout your swing. This will cause you to stay behind the ball better, creating that great ascending blow, which is ideal for the driver.

When setting up to your middle to short irons and wedges, keep your shoulders more level and look at the front of the ball throughout your shot. That will keep your weight more forward, resulting in a descending blow that's perfect for hitting crisp iron shots and pitches.

I hope these thoughts help your game this weekend, and let's hope Ken reads this blog. He's playing in a member-member tournament Saturday and Sunday. If he balances out his swings, he and his partner will be the odds-on favorites!

Roger Schiffman
Managing Editor
Golf Digest
Twitter @RogerSchiffman
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