Monday, September 25, 2006

The Rain and Working the Ball...

The Weather Mocks Me...

A cold front and the accompanying thunderstorms pushed through Saturday night. The rain had stopped before daylight, but I had no idea how much rain fell.

I have been trying to play Tour18 for three weeks. I have been trying to play on Monday because it’s the cheapest and least busy day of the week to play. The rain has put and end to my “Amen Corner” dreams each time. My next chance to play Tour18 will be in three weeks.

I knew it would be wet, but I went down to Green Caye on Sunday to get a loop or two in before the Monday’s round at Tour18. I figured I’d be okay as long as I could reasonably hit he greens or close to the greens. While driving along Hwy 646, I saw the roadside ditches were rivers filled with water.

What I saw when I pulled up to the course answered the question of “How much rain?” real quick. The driving range was pretty much under water. The ponds were overflowing. The only thing above water on the seventh, eighth, and ninth holes were the green and tee boxes. The course was closed.

However, the driving range was open (mats only), so I decided to stay and hit a few buckets. I have been hitting the ball very well lately. My last money game we played 16 holes and I won 13. We just play for quarters, but we play greenies and birdies and I have been a greenie machine lately. The last few money games have really been making my bag heavy because I have a ziplock sandwich bag almost half full of quarters in there.

Working the Ball...

Over the last month or so, I have been practicing “working the ball”. I have been hitting draws and fades with my irons on the range with a good bit of success. I have taken those shots out on the course the last few times and it has been working out very well – especially in the wind.

I decided to concentrate on “working the ball” after reading several reviews of my irons where the writers state that my clubs are good as a first set, but forget about “working the ball”. There are plenty of good reviews there too but I got to thinking: Can a beginner slice or hook the ball with “beginner” or “game improvement” irons? Sure. So why, with a little experimentation, would I not be able to hit a draw or fade? I know those shots have come off of these clubs; I just have to figure out how to control it. Well I did, and here’s how:

First a little disclaimer. These are merely my observations. I am not stating that this is the "proper" way to work the ball, I am just sharing my experience.

The ball will initially fly along the line that the club head travels at impact. Hopefully this line points at your target, and neither and out-to-in nor in-to-out path.

If the club face is square and the swing path true (neither and out-to-in nor in-to-out path), the ball will fly pretty straight.

If the club face is not square and the swing path is true, the ball will curve along a hook, draw, fade, or slice trajectory. This trajectory is dependent on a closed (hook, draw) or open (fade, slice) club face.

A square club face can produce a curving trajectory if the swing path is out-to-in (fade, slice) or in-to-out (draw, hook) path.

My preferred method to draw the ball is to slightly close the club face and use my normal swing. Similarly, I slightly open the club face to fade the ball.

I spent several days on the range to get the hang of this. Getting the ball to fly left-to-right or right-to-left is rather easy using this method. The hard part is learning how much to open or close your stance so the ball lands in the right place. Care must also be taken to ensure a swing that is true because you can undo or exaggerate the spin with the swing path.



I recommend that all beginners experiment on the range and see what different stuff does. Try changing the club face orientation at address and watch how the ball flies. Try to produce an out-to-in or in-to-out swing path and observe the results. Try moving the ball forward or back in your stance and see what happens. Try a stronger or weaker grip just to see what happens.

The important thing about experimentation is defining the boundries of an acceptable shot. Here's a great example:

Next time you practice putting, try a few four-footers (short putts). Try to determine the minimum force needed to get the ball to the cup. Then try to determine the maximum force that drops (see how hard you have to hit it to hop it off of the back). You might be surprised that there is a pretty wide range in how hard you can hit a four foot putt. Now you can hit the minimum force on a short downhill putt and you know how aggressively you can hit an uphill putt or a breaking putt (to take the break out).

So, to folks that think you cannot "work the ball" with “game improvement” irons, I beg to differ.

Then again what do I know?

I’m New2golf,



At 5:30 PM, Blogger Luke Swilor said...

You can work the ball with ANY irons. You're right.

And you're right again that beginners should experiment, and try to hit every shot they can imagine. That's how you learn, and you will probably learn more quickly that way.

Hey Greg, sorry I missed you this week. I saw that rain you were talking about Saturday night. REAL rain. Pretty nice after that. When I'm down here with a little time we'll have to hook up.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Yeah Luke, you got the best weather we've had all summer (after the rain anyways). Glad to see you scored well. I was hoping to get out and see some of the competition up there at Cypresswood, but work has got me pinned down at the moment. We'll look for ya next time!



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