Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Control your iron trajectory

By Hank Haney Photos by Dom Furore
September 20, 2009

One of the first things you learn about trajectory -- once you've become a reasonably good ball-striker -- is that moving the ball back in your stance will make the shot fly lower.

That's true, but it's also crude. Play the ball back, and you hit it earlier in your downswing arc, which can hurt your accuracy.

A more sophisticated way to control height is to adjust your swing speed. You can make a shot fly lower by slowing down, either by shortening the swing or choking down on the club. Swinging faster creates more backspin and more height.

Another way to do it is to vary your release. The more you extend your arms through the shot, the lower it will go. Letting the club come up more in the follow-through produces more height. Whichever way you choose, control your trajectory, and you'll hit it pin-high much more often.


Watson made the right choice


It's easy now to second-guess Tom Watson's putt from off the green on the 72nd hole of the British Open, especially given what ended up happening. He putted from the edge of the collar, left himself an eight-footer to win, and looked very shaky missing it.

I know what it's like to have a yips issue. He made the right call to putt his third shot instead of chip.

First of all, Tom knows that short putts are his weakness. He might not have been standing in the 18th fairway after his perfect tee shot thinking, I've got to hit this one close, but I'll bet it was there subconsciously. That's the kind of pressure the yips put on the rest of your game. He knew he needed to be within a foot and a half of the hole after his third shot to win the tournament outright.

I know Andy North said on the telecast that if Watson hit the green, he'd win the tournament. Under that pressure, would getting down in two putts from 60 feet have been any easier? Tom picked a third shot he believed had the best chance of getting really close. It didn't work out, but he still played a tournament for the ages.