How He Hit That: Matt Jones' dialed-in short irons
Matt Jones might be more famous as a Washington Redskins running back, but the professional golfer version made more of a name for himself this weekend, beating Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott to win the Australian Open.
The 35-year-old Aussie and PGA Tour player overcame a triple bogey on the ninth hole by making two late birdies to win his first tournament since the 2014 Shell Houston Open.
Jones was particularly good with his short irons, mostly because of how he uses his hands through impact.
"Players have always heard that they need to square the club through impact, but for many amateurs, it means that they turn the handle way too much -- especially on short shots," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville. "The latest technology actually lets us see the kinetics of a golf swing -- the forces that make it happen. On short irons, the best players are actually trying to restrict the amount the face closes through impact."
On the graph below, taken from Jacobs' proprietary 3D software, the red arrows show the direction and amount a tour player is twisting on the grip leading up to impact, which is represented by the green dot. The arrows change direction from outward (force squaring the face) to inward (force holding the face off) at about knee height in the downswing.
To feel this for yourself, hold your smartphone in a pretend golf grip so that the back of the phone is facing the target. As you make a swing, feel like you're keeping the back of the phone pointed at the target through the bottom of the swing.
"On a driver, you'd definitely want to twist the handle more to square the face, but on short iron shots, it shouldn't feel like you're turning hard on the grip at all," says Jacobs. "A square face is what will make the ball start on target and go where you aim."