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Dave Pelz's Fast New Ways to Lower Your Handicap

Robin Griggs

On Arrowhead's 190-yard par-3 6th, most of the amateurs' shots landed short of the green. Pros are more likely to hit the correct distance because of better contact and better club/target selection.

Your big problem
You hit par-3 tee shots off the toe of your iron

My New Research on PLAYING PAR 3s
Under-clubbing, toed shots and target selection are your problems


Club Selection
Pros have a big advantage from 190 yards; not only are their swings better, they also use shorter clubs.


Club Used PGA Tour 0 Handicap 10 Handicap 20 Handicap 30 Handicap
Driver 0 0 2 6 4
3-wood 0 0 17 21 16
5-wood 0 1 9 22 12
Hybrid 0 4 13 14 28
2-iron 0 1 1 5 4
3-iron 3 9 21 14 8
4-iron 23 22 23 6 12
5-iron 32 41 9 6 16
6-iron 17 20 2 3 0
7-iron 9 1 1 0 0


Why your numbers are bad

1. PROS make contact in the center of the clubface more often, making it easier to control the distance they hit their shots.
YOU make contact out on the toe of the clubface. As a result, variable and less than maximum energy is transferred from club to ball.
(More than 90 percent of the amateurs came up short of the flagstick, no matter what club they used.)

2. PROS know how far they hit each club in their bag, and seldom overestimate how much distance they will generate with the club they select.
YOU select clubs based on an expectation of hitting them almost perfectly and having the ball carry precisely to the hole. The problem is, most amateurs don't hit perfect shots very often.
(Even the amateurs who hit a solid tee shot mostly came up short of the hole.)

3. PROS calculate pin position and hazard locations when selecting their landing targets.
YOU aim directly at the flagstick regardless of how close hazards are to the target.
(Since most of the amateurs' shots came up short, many landed in the hazard.)

How to make them better

Cut out your cut
As you swing through the hitting zone, move your clubhead down and out toward the target. This will curb your tendency to cut across the ball and hit it on the toe. Practice this by hitting balls from three inches inside a three-foot-long two-by-four piece of wood aimed exactly at your target.

Go long
Select the club that will get you to the back edge of the green. The ball will end up past the flagstick if you catch it pure, but no harm done since your shots are rarely straight enough for you to make the next putt anyway. Choosing a stronger club will carry your average shots closer to the hole, leave shorter putts and keep you out of hazards short of the green.

Be a scatter-brain
Study the shot patterns in the map above. Imagine hitting 100 balls to this par 3; which pattern would your shots fall into? From now on when you play a par 3, look for the safest area on the green for your shot pattern (not your perfect shot) to fall into, no matter where the flag is.

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