How He Hit That: Like Tiger, control your irons
*Editor's Note: Every Monday Kevin Hinton, Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, N.Y. and one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers, tells you how a tour player hits a key shot. This week, Kevin examines Tiger Woods' masterfully controlled 9-iron (from 180 yards!) to the 18th green, key to his two-stroke victory in the AT&T National at Congressional.
By Kevin Hinton
*Despite the fact that Tiger was hitting his irons massive distances throughout the week, including the 180-yard 9-iron on 18 Sunday, he did it with a controlled, three-quarter follow-through. At times we have seen Tiger ripping to a full finish when hitting the ball such distances. But his current look seems to be adding control, and helping to keep the ball flight down. Here are a few things we can take from Tiger's shorter finish: Try it, and you might just find that needed combination of accuracy and power that Tiger showed us at Congressional.
1. Finish Low and Left
In addition to being more of a three-quarter finish, Tiger keeps the club working left through impact, in the way the club is supposed to arc around the body. Darren Clarke showed us a similar finish en-route to last year's British Open victory. A "high right" finish is the opposite of what we want. This makes trajectory control difficult, as well as jeopardizing ball contact.
2. Finish your body turn
Tiger's club might have an abbreviated look to its finish, but his body has rotated fully. Tiger unwinds his hips and torso beautifully through impact. This helps him make solid contact and, again, control the ball flight. Be sure not to confuse a three-quarter finish of the arms and club with passive body action. Allowing your body to stall out through impact will lead to disaster.
3. Swing three-quarter to hit it full
Tiger certainly doesn't lose any distance with his shortened follow-through, and from my experience, the average player often hits it farther. Many of my students notice that their impact conditions improve to the point that a three-quarter finish leads to better contact, and thus more distance. This can be especially true in their higher-lofted irons. A more compressed ball will likely fly much farther.