A Left and Right Approach to Better Iron Play
By Keith Stewart, PGA
Stephen Ames of Canada hits his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the 82nd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship held at Harbor Shores.Getty Images
Two men continue to attack Harbor Shores golf club with great approach play. The leader, Stephen Ames fired a four under par 67 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead into the final round. In second place, Mike Weir shot a 67 himself and is only two shots back. These two Canadians are excellent ball strikers, yet one does it right-handed and the other from the left-hand side.
Watching both players hit approach shots this weekend can be very helpful for you own game. Seeing a mirror image approach allows us to understand how successful swings happen. The men leading the field this week have made their way to the top of the leaderboard by hitting greens in regulation.
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Harbor Shores takes the players through several different styles of golf course layouts. From the inland woods holes to the Lake Michigan stretch in the middle and closing with the Paw Paw River holes at the end. The difference in each area of the course causes us to see our approaches in different ways. When that happens, it is important you have confidence in your iron game.
As a PGA coach, I love the way these two men swing the handle of the golf club. Right handed or left, they take the club away from the ball by moving the entire handle first. What I mean by that, is when we start our swing, many amateurs just pick the handle up as they begin moving the club. The tip of the grip gets flung away and wrists control the takeaway.
Instead of just picking up the club rapidly, start your swing by moving the whole handle. Swing it away in such a fashion where you don’t break your wrists. Mike Weir was working on this with his award-winning PGA Coach Mark Blackburn. Mike always had that characteristic waggle in his golf swing. Sometimes he would get too handsy from the start. His waggle would help him take the club the away with his turn rather than his hands.
They next time you get to the course, try to start your swing sequence by moving your arms and the handle together in the takeaway. The result will feel as if that club is more connected to your turn. Then as you begin your attack on the ball, keep swinging that grip all the way through.
A couple decades ago, I had the opportunity to watch Stephen Ames hit golf balls up close. His penetrating ball flight and impact really impressed me. The most notable thing I could see was how well he swung the handle of the golf club through to a complete finish. Most readers will immediately think of their swing and say my handle goes through. How can it not?
True it goes through, but what Ames does, and you maybe don’t is that grip stays solid all the way to his finish. Most amateurs stop their turn and therefore the grip flips through impact. Like that Weir feeling in the backswing, get to the range and practice following through leading with the handle.
Get your arms extended through impact and make sure the butt end of the handle is leading the way to that TV finish. Instantly you will feel your body has to turn more through the hitting zone. That’s a great sensation for any golfer to incorporate.
I can’t wait to see how the second PGA major championship in the last two weeks turns out. These two men will be in the mix so watch these moves I’ve just described. Copy their swings and you’ll be a better iron player going forward in your game.