I’m coming off a recent win at the CIMB Classic, and my iron game into the par 5s was a big reason I got it done. For the week, I played the par 5s at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 14 under par. That should get it done any week on tour. Most everyday players, however, loathe their long and middle irons and are reluctant to use them. That’s unfortunate, because these clubs are valuable tools. Whether you’re going for the green in two, trying to hit a green in regulation on a 200-yard par 3, or looking to run one up on a long par 4, let me help you rethink avoiding these clubs. I’ll take you through my strategy and swing thoughts with them and have you playing the longer holes better in no time. — with E. Michael Johnson


DECLARE YOUR INTENTIONS
Because amateurs typically have low expectations with longer irons, I’ve seen a lot of them get careless with these shots. Try to be more thoughtful. First, your goal should be to pick a conservative target so you’ll feel better about making an aggressive swing. Next, check your alignment. Some players set up to something closer than their actual target, but that doesn’t work for me. I focus on where I want the ball to end up, and I set up to make that happen by taking shot shape into consideration. For example, if there is water on the left and the pin is in the middle or the right side of the green, I’ll go at the flag. But if the pin is near the water, I’ll aim away from the trouble and try to work the ball back toward the green. Remember what I said about aggressive swings toward conservative targets. You never want to hit toward trouble and hope it curves away. What if you hit the dreaded straight shot?

TAKE YOUR TIME
Timing is super important. If it’s off, you’re not going to hit the ball very well. You’re better off swinging slower and making sure everything is moving in the right downswing order—body, arms, hands, then club. If you ever watch me swing a long iron, you’ll notice that although I’m about to hit a long shot, the shaft of my club does not reach parallel at the top. Don’t get me wrong; I make a good turn, and my arms are extended away from my body—that’s a good feeling to have—but the point is, I’m not overswinging. The tendency with longer irons is to put more effort into the shot than you would if you were swinging a pitching wedge. But if you swing these clubs just like your short irons, your timing will be a lot better. You’ll also have a better chance of making centerface contact, which matters most when swinging these clubs. This is especially true into the wind, so take your time.

APPROACH CONFIDENTLY
If you want to hit one flush with a middle or long iron, don’t swing down too steeply. It’s a bad habit of mine, and I see it a lot from everyday players. It’s as if the swing thought is to trap the ball. Instead, you want the club coming in on a shallower approach so it can sweep the ball off the fairway—or even a low tee. This will produce crisp contact, a higher launch angle for better distance, and the height needed to get the shot to stop on the green. Good weight distribution is vital. When I’m too steep, it’s usually because I have too much weight on my left side as I start down. That pitches my body toward the target and prompts a steeper angle. But if some of my weight stays on the right side, I’m in business. Another benefit to being shallow is good extension of the arms, which improves contact and power. Trust me, you’ll hit it a lot better with extension than if you’re swinging with “crocodile arms.”

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Turnberry Country Club!

We hope you enjoy the Holidays & look forward to seeing you out on the course in the new year!

If you’re No. 1 in greens in regulation on the LPGA Tour like Jin Young Ko was in 2018, you might not need to spend a lot of time chipping. Unfortunately, most amateurs hit fewer than six greens in regulation each round, so having better short-game skills should be a focal point of practice, says Ko, the LPGA Rookie of the Year. “Amateurs I’ve played with don’t think about whether the shot should run or if it should land soft,” she says. “They just try to get it on the green any way they can.” That’s no way to approach these situations, says Jorge Parada, one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers and director of instruction at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J. With the help of Ko demonstrating, Parada will teach you two basic chips that will cover the majority of lies you face around the greens. The best part? The adjustments to hit both are fairly simple. Read on to expand your greenside options.

The Low-Running Chip

Set Up in Front Of The Ball

When trying to bump the ball onto the green and get it running, a big fault is tilting the shoulders back,” Parada says. “The left shoulder gets high and the chest leans back. This negates moving the ball back in your stance to hit it lower. It causes chunks.” Instead, Parada says to feel like the sternum and chin are ahead of the golf ball and the left shoulder is level to the right shoulder at address. Just like Ko is demonstrating here, keep your upper body from drifting away from the green as you swing.

The High-And-Soft Chip

Keep The Shaft Vertical

“A mistake when hitting a chip high and soft is setting up with the hands too far forward. That causes the ball to come off lower and hotter,” Parada says. Instead, play the ball off your front foot, set the shaft so it’s pointing near your belly button, and don’t lean the shaft toward the green when you swing. “The chest rotates, the hips are passive, and the clubhead passes the hands through impact,” Parada says. “Jin Young might not hit a lot of chips during a round, but she knows what she’s doing here.”

Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but in a sports world driven by analytics, they can certainly tell part of it. Last year on the PGA Tour, a few statistics said a lot about the seasons of some of the best players in the world, some good, some bad, but all telling. Here are 14 numbers that

11 — Number of players who ended win droughts of at least at 4½ years on the tour. They are as follows, from longest dry spell to shortest: Charles Howell III (11 years, 9 months), Paul Casey (8 years, 11 months), Kevin Na (7 years, 9 months), Keegan Bradley (6 years, 1 month), Ted Potter, Jr. (5 years, 7 months), Ian Poulter (5 years, 5 months), Tiger Woods (5 years, 1 month), Phil Mickelson (4 years, 8 months), Webb Simpson (4 years, 7 months), Matt Kuchar (4 years, 7 months) and Gary Woodland (4 years, 6 months). Lee Westwood also ended a victory drought of 4 years and 7 months on the European Tour at the Nedbank Challenge. Westwood’s last PGA Tour win came at the 2010 FedEx St. Jude Classic.

11 — Number of top-10 finishes without a victory for Tony Finau. The 29-year-old became the first golfer to have at least 11 top-10s and no wins since Jim Furyk, who did the same in both 2014 and 2009. In the last 20 years, only five other players have done that: David Toms in 2002 (12 top-10s), Vijay Singh in 2001 (14), Steve Flesch in 2000 (13), Chris Perry in 1999 (14) and Davis Love III in 1999 (13).

11 — Number of first-time winners on the PGA Tour last season: Ryan Armour, Patrick Cantlay, Patton Kizzire, Austin Cook, Brice Garnett, Satoshi Kodaira, Andrew Landry, Aaron Wise, Michael Kim, Francesco Molinari and Andrew Putnam. (Apparently, 11s were wild on tour in 2018.)

32.5 — Average number of spots Tiger Woods jumped in the Official World Golf Ranking after each event he played beginning with the 2017 Hero World Challenge and ending with the 2018 Hero. Woods entered the 2017 Hero at 674th in the world and has climbed all the way to his current 13th spot.

4.57 — Tiger Woods’ par-5 scoring average. The number matches the worst mark in Woods’ career; in 2013 he also had a 4.57 average. However that year it was good enough to tie him for fourth on tour. This year, that mark tied him for 24th, by far the worst standing of his career in the category. Prior to this season, Woods had never finished worse than T-6 for a season in par-5 scoring average. In nine of his first 10 seasons on tour, he finished first, including eight straight to start his career.

9 — Number of times the World No. 1 ranking changed hands in 2018, the most times since the ranking’s inception in 1986. The previous record was 7 in 1997 and 2012. The four players who passed it around? Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka, who currently holds the title.

$451,704.33 — Average amount of money Justin Rose made per start on the PGA Tour this season, not including the $10 million FedEx Cup prize. If you include that, he made $1,007,259.89 per start.

278.9 — Average driving distance in yards in 2018 for Brian Stuard, who ranked dead last in that statistic among the 193 players that qualified. Averaging 300 yards on the nose didn’t even get you in the top 50 last season. In 1998, 300 yards would have ranked first on the PGA Tour, and 278 would put you in the top 30.

75.3 — The field scoring average on Saturday at the U.S. Open, a day in which 19 players shot 78 or worse at Shinnecock Hills.

98.78 — Jordan Spieth’s percentage of made putts from three feet. It might sound good, but it actually ranked 181st on tour last year. His performance from close proximity was in line with his overall putting for the season, as he finished a career-low 123rd in strokes-gained/putting. Still, he managed to nearly shoot 63 on Sunday at Augusta (if not for missing a short putt at the 72nd) and amass nearly $3 million in earnings for the year. Players have had much worse “down” years, to say the least.

2.372 — Average total strokes-gained against the field per round for Dustin Johnson, who lead the PGA Tour in that category this season. Since 2004, only three players have eclipsed that number in a season: Tiger Woods (five times: 2004-2007, 2009), Jim Furyk (2006) and Rory McIlroy (2012).

0 — Combined major victories for the three players with the best cumulative scores to par in the major championships for the season. Justin Rose lead the way at 12 under, Rickie Fowler came in second at 11 under and Tony Finau in third at nine under. In fourth? Francesco Molinari, who finished the majors with a cumulative score of eight under, his winning score at Carnoustie, meaning he played the other three in even par. Brooks Koepka missed the Masters due to injury, but was 13 under in the other three; Masters champ Patrick Reed missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but was 11 under in the remaining majors.

68.00 — Saturday scoring average for both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, tying them for first overall on the PGA Tour. Each, however, had just one victory, and though both were impressive (Woods’ 80th career W at the Tour Championship, Rory’s Sunday charge at Bay Hill), they probably both think they could have had more. Their Sunday scoring averages played a role in that, with Woods’ dropping nearly two strokes to 69.75 (41st on tour) and McIlroy’s two full strokes to 70.00 (T-54 on tour).

68.27 — Final-round scoring average for Brooks Koepka, the third-lowest of any player who played at least 15 final rounds in a season on tour since 2001. The two lower players? Tiger Woods in 2002 with an average of 67.71, and Luke Donald in 2011 with an average of 68.06.

Source: golfdigest.com

Holiday Dinner at The Griffin Room.

Enjoy live piano during a candle lit dinner!

December 21st @ 5:00pm

5 Course Dinner

$28.95 Per Person

New Year’s Eve Dinner Celebration

RSVP EXTENDED!

$40 Per Person | Dinner at 5:00pm | 4 Course Meal

Champagne Toast at Midnight & a Live DJ

Please RSVP by December 27th, you may do so by calling 815-455-0501.

New Year’s Eve Dinner Celebration

LAST DAY TO RSVP!

$40 Per Person | Dinner at 5:00pm | 4 Course Meal

Champagne Toast at Midnight & a Live DJ

Please RSVP by December 17th, you may do so by calling 815-455-0501.

Holiday Dinner at The Griffin Room.

Enjoy live piano during a candle lit dinner!

December 21st @ 5:00pm

5 Course Dinner

$28.95 Per Person

Holiday Dinner at The Griffin Room.

Enjoy live piano during a candle lit dinner!

December 21st @ 5:00pm

5 Course Dinner

$28.95 Per Person

New Year’s Eve Dinner Celebration

$40 Per Person | Dinner at 5:00pm | 4 Course Meal

Champagne Toast at Midnight & a Live DJ

Please RSVP by December 17th, you may do so by calling 815-455-0501.