By Bob Sparks, PGA Golf Professional
Too many times I see players trying to lift or help the ball into the air on their shots. An understanding of loft begins by realizing that the club should be descending upon impact. Those wonderful divots Tour players make are always in front (target side) of the ball, and not behind the ball. When we try to “lift” or “get under it” the club is on its way up and either hits the ground first and bounces into the ball or never touches the ground, which results in a ball struck with the blade of the club. In either case the result is a poorly struck shot that has no trajectory and often finds trouble.
To begin to teach a student an understanding of loft I will have the player learn to properly hit a basic chip shot from 10 to 20 yards off the green. This shot is really a putting stroke using an iron. The loft of the club will get the ball in the air and rolling on the green. In a basic chip, with our weight 90 percent on our left side and the handle, or grip, of the club leading, we learn a good impact position where the club is descending and the loft is being effectively used. Once you learn to utilize the loft in a short, controlled chip shot you can work into a pitch and a full shot.
Understanding and then executing loft properly also begins with a good set up position. Many players are aimed left (wrongly believing this will fix their slice), and have the ball position too far back in their stance. With such a set up the player is already going to be trying to add loft and lift the ball. Remember the chip where at impact we are 90 percent on our left? Well, how can we get our weight to our left side if the ball is back in the stance?
Set up and alignment is crucial to a well-struck iron shot where the club is descending with the handle leading and the player’s weight going forward. Bob Sparks is head professional at Harwinton’s Fairview Farm Golf Course. He can be reached at 689-1000.