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Lest we forget, golf has long been a shotmaker’s game. The era of perfect putting surfaces, solid core distance balls, and 46 inch 460cc clubheads is still in its infancy. The greater annals of golfing history are filled with men and women who distinguished themselves through the quality of their striking, breadth of imagination, and mental fortitude to physically create what once existed only in the mind’s eye. The ability to work the ball – left, right, high, low, off sidehills and downslopes, tight lies and hardpan, different grass types and in varying weather conditions – was of paramount importance to championship caliber golf. Classic courses of the persimmon age demanded it. Shotmaking Corner will serve, I hope, to preserve a few bits and pieces of the once great body of knowledge of the great shotmakers should the next generation express a desire to direct the game back towards a more traditional form.


Three shots from 160 Yards by Corey Pavin

Today we will observe the exception to the rules as US Open champion Corey Pavin shows us that with proper technique, dynamic shots can be played with almost any club design. In 1995 at Shinnecock Hills, little Corey Pavin came from 3 shots down to beat Greg Norman and win his only major. At only 6900 yards, the course was setup such that control and creativity could offset superior strength and length. In the selection below, Pavin shares some options for playing shots from 160 yards. What I really like about this excerpt is the swing sequences that go with the text, providing visuals on how the experts manipulate their path and clubface to produce the desired shots.


Three Neat Shots – All From 160 Yards

To be a good shotmaker, you need to be able to play different shots from the same distance. Conditions such as wind, green elevation, hole location and ground are important factors in determining the type of shot you want to hit. It may be a low shot, a fade or draw, or even a run-up shot. Here are three options for playing the same shot from the same distance.

1. The standard 6-iron
For me, 160 yards is standard distance for a medium 6-iron; yours may differ. When wind and other adverse conditions aren’t present, play the ball just to the left of center of your stance and align your feet and shoulders parallel to the target line. Swing the club back slightly to the inside, letting your wrists break naturally just before your hands reach hip-height. Turn your shoulders fully with the club almost reaching parallel at the top. On the downswing and through impact, swing the clubhead along your stance line, the same way you took the club back. Let the momentum of the swing carry you into a full, free finish. This all-purpose 6-iron will hit the green on the fly and settle quickly after landing.

2. Hard draw with a 7-iron
If there’s no obstacle short and right of the green, and the hole is located on the back-left portion of the green, you might choose to hit a low draw that lands on the front part of the green and releases towards the hole. It’s a better option that tryign to fly the ball back to the hole because the high-flying shot too often ends up short.

Align your feet and shoulders to the right side of the green, but aim the clubface at the flagstick. Make sure you grip the club after you’ve aimed the clubface. Take the club back well to the inside and you’ll want to swing down along an inside path. Turn your shoulders as far as comfortably possible so you are fully coiled at the top of your backswing. Swing down from the inside and concentrate on letting the clubhead follow your body lines. Keep your head down through impact and beyond, as that will help you hit the ball solidly and keep the clubface sufficiently delofted to produce a low ball flight. The ball should start to the right of the green and then swing to the left, hitting the front part of the green and skidding back to the hole.

3. Punch shot with a 5-iron
If the wind is blowing hard in your face, there are no obstacles short of the green and the turf is firm, the low punch shot is extremely effective. You see this type of shot played a lot during the British Open. The idea is to hit the ball 150 yards on the fly, then let it run the remaining 10 onto the green. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a much better choice than hitting a higher shot that’s at the mercy of the wind.

You’re deliberately playing a low shot, so position the ball just to the right of the center in your stance. Don’t play the ball farther back than that, though. It isn’t necessary because the loft of the 5-iron is low for a shot of this length. Make a shorter backswing than with a full shot, but don’t deliberately omit any part of your body from the swing. You want your hips and shoulders to turn, just not as much. Through impact, keep your head down until after the ball is gone.

The real key to the punch shot is your follow-through. Even before you begin the swing, think of keeping your follow through short. Long follow-throughs are for longer shots.


One more look at the side by side differences – interesting to note the shaft position as he prepares for release.  Surprising how bowed that left wrist is considering how open the clubface is at the top.



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