WHERE HAVE ALL THE SHOTMAKERS GONE?
Golf as we know it today is not the same game that came to this country more than 100 years ago. Significant changes in equipment have altered our thoughts about how the game is played.
The old timers talked about playing golf by feel. They even developed a language for golf describing the feel of the shot. “Carve it in.” “Saw it around.” “Punch it under.” “Pinch it.” This is the language of golf by feel.
But can we still feel the shot? The sensation of the impact of a wound, balata golf ball against a persimmon driver or a hand forged iron is not the same as a cast, stainless steel clubhead crashing against a two-piece, plastic covered golf ball.
High-tech materials have removed much of the feel from golf and the accompanying artistry of shotmaking. The shotmaker’s imagination has been replaced by the unending quest for distance, the consumption of technically advanced golf equipment and the overabundance of instruction dedicated to the mechanics.
Golf today has removed much of the feel and therefore today’s golfer is more concerned with swing technique than the creation of ball flight. His or her game would improve much more rapidly if the emphasis were again placed on creating the flight of the ball.
Introduce yourself to the artistry of shotmaking. Even a beginning golfer should learn to hit hooks, slices, high and low shots. An emphasis in practice on creating ball flight will enable you to be more aware of the hitting surface of the golf club and ultimately to be in control of the shotmaking process. This control will result in increased distance and more consistent improvement.
If you would like to improve your feel and shotmaking skill, here’s an exercise to add to your practice routine. Find a practice area that will allow you to create a variety of different shots. Using only a 6-iron and a sand wedge, practice the following series of shots: with your 6-iron, hit a bump and run, a pitch that rolls more than it flies, a pitch that flies more than it rolls and a soft lob over a bunker.
Obviously some of these shots are not normally attempted with a 6-iron. However, the exercise is designed to allow you experience all the different lofts and shots with one club. Once you have become comfortable with the stroke and clubhead manipulation of a 6-iron lob over a bunker, go through the same routine with the sand wedge. The lob over the bunker will be easier with the sandwedge, however, the bump and run will challenge your shotmaking creativity.
You will never use a 6-iron lob on the golf course, but if you make this drill part of your regular practice sessions, your increased awareness of the clubhead and the creation of ball flight will soon turn you into a creative shotmaker. As a creative shotmaker, your attention will shift to devising shots to fit situations, freeing you from the burden of swing mechanics and put some feel back into the game.