The Highest Compliment
A sincere compliment from a caddie is one of the finest things in golf. These men and women see hundreds of swings every day, and they know the difference between good and great. If you spend some time with this drill, you may be lucky enough to hear your caddie say, “This guy is a shot maker.”
This Lesson Is For You If:
You want to add more versatility to your game
You want your game to travel better
You want a more engaging way to practice
The Drill – Version 1
To start this drill, you need a target that’s a mid or short iron away from you. 150 yards is a fine starting point, but you can make it 125 or even 100 yards. Begin the drill with the club you’d normally hit that distance, a 150 yard 7-iron, for example. After hitting your 7I to the target, move to the 6-iron and hit to the same target. If you’re successful, go to a shorter club, 8-iron, and try to get to that same green or flag. Continue that pattern – 5-iron, 9-iron, 4-iron, pitching wedge – until you can’t hit the target anymore.
It will be up to you to scale the difficulty of this drill to your ability. If you’re a very high level player, you may set a very small target (both left-to-right and in terms of distance) and only give yourself one shot per club. Someone who is new to the drill can create a larger target area and allow multiple attempts per club.
The Drill – Version 2
You can do a similar drill with one club and multiple targets. With your chosen club, start with a stock shot. Next, hit a shot ten yards short of stock. Follow that with a shot ten yards beyond stock. Repeat that pattern as far as you can. For example:
Shot #1 – 150 yards
Shot #2 – 140 yards
Shot #3 – 160 yards
Shot #4 – 130 yards
Shot #5 – 170 yards
You may be limited to one or two shots beyond your stock yardage, but challenge yourself to push that club as far as it will go. Even after you’ve hit your upper limit, continue down the distance ladder to see if you can consistently hit a ten or twenty yard shot with that club.
Just as with the first version, it’s up to you to match the stringency of the task to your skills.
Why It’s Useful
I call this the Ultimate Shot Maker’s Drill because it checks so many boxes for both ball striking and scoring. On a basic level, it gets you working through all or most of your bag. It also creates pressure and focus in your practice, two things that are often lacking.
Additionally, this drill gets you thinking creatively about your swing. What are all the ways you can take yardage off a club? How can you make go farther? When you experiment with different changes, you open the door to discovering new things about your swing and adding more shots to your repetoire.
Finally, with practice, you’ll find yourself scoring better on the course. You’ll have so many shots in your bag that no situation will trouble you. Trees, wind, front pins, back pins – no matter the conditions, your game will travel.