Between Irons? Get All Choked Up

King of run-on sentences here, I hope everyone’s enjoying the season.  Well my game is currently in the toilet, so I don’t necessarily feel qualified to suggest any tips, but there is one topic that I’ve always felt strongly about and could be of help to some fellow hackers – the “between clubs” shot.  This is most helpful with the short irons, but can also come into play with any club in the bag.  Since my first days of playing golf, I’ve always cringed at the classic “face of a clock” drills.  You know the deal – “if you want to hit it 75%, take the club back to 11 o’clock, 9 o’clock, yadda yadda”.

The guys in golf magazines that suggest this technique remind me of people who tell me that drinking Coca Cola actually makes me MORE thirsty . . .  I understand your point, but I still want to take a 4 iron to the back of your knee.  The underlying theme of this concept is sound – it makes teachers crazy to watch amateurs try to “take something off” of an iron swing, causing deceleration, which is the scurge of any golf swing.  So if you don’t take the club back as far, you can still accelerate through and not worry about hitting it the full distance.  Got it.  The problem I have with this concept is two-fold: 1) ask any amateur to bring his/her club back 50%, and 9 times out of 10 that sucker is still going back to John Daly territory (see: Every One of My Lessons since 1989); and 2) significantly shortening a backswing tends to throw everything else out of whack.  For starters, most amateurs feel like they’re hardly turning at all, which in turn deflates any sense of confidence and timing in the swing.  And on a general note, do we really want to be over the ball thinking about Flavor Flav’s go-to accessory?

“Keep that left arm straight, booyyeee!”

I would like to offer up a different technique that I’ve been using since my early days – choking up.  By choking up on the grip, I can effectively shorten the length of the iron (a major component of distance), take my 100% swing at the ball, and cut my yardage down with zero thought.  For example – I hit my PW 130 yards and my 9 iron 140 yards.  If I need to hit a 135 yard shot, I just choke up about 1 inch on my 9 iron and swing away.  The impact is still the same, ball flight stays the same, and I’m not making the foolish mistake of a) trying to slow down a 9 iron, or b) trying to nuketify a wedge.  In my experience, every inch I choke up takes about 5 yards off of the shot.  There’s some feel that goes hand in hand with this concept, so take the “1 inch” guideline with a grain of salt.

This comes into play with every club in the bag (never tried it with the driver, what’s the point?), but it’s most helpful with shots that are less than your full PW.  I’m not sure how the aliens on tour feel about this, but in my world, hitting a full 52 degree wedge or SW is WAY different than hitting my other irons.  So even if I’m under my PW yardage of 130, I’m not pulling out that 52 degree until I’m in less than 105 or so.  As a result, my PW has to cover me from 130 yards down to 105.  Well sir, I’ll accept that challenge gladly . . . I’ll just choke up like I do everytime I honk a new ProV1 into the woods.

‘THREE GUYS’ BONUS: Aren’t we nice . . . there is a cool little bonus to this technique that doesn’t make total sense on paper, but in reality it’s there for most amateurs.  So we’re saying “take your 100% swing” . . . the fact is, the second you choke up on that club, your brain will tweak it’s concept of a 100% swing by a hair of Lucas Glover’s man-beard.  Gross.  Usually the backswing will be just a tiny bit more compact, which is what most of us could use in the first place.  On most days, my crispest shots are those that I’ve choked up on a bit and really went after.  And after biting my lip for the last 20 years with every person I’ve ever played with . . . TRY IT!!!!

Written by Matt Murley
I’ve been playing golf for a long time, but every year brings new adventures with my game. I pay zero attention to statistics, refuse to register any playing partner’s GPS readings that get barked out from the cart, and generally shave .8 strokes off my game with each beer that goes down the gullet.