Long-Distance Help

By Adam BarrJune 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
The heroic feats pros used to pull off with fairway woods ' getting to par 5s in two ' are now accomplished largely with long irons. But there was a time, not so long ago, when 3-woods were the thundersticks that preceded the lightning-fast drama of an eagle and a three-shot swing. Leaderboard signs tumbled like dominoes.
Within the recreational game, fairway and utility woods still hold that promise of heroism, along with a collection of more ordinary benefits that can help your game. Lets consider the high points:
As with any club, if you can trust it, you can bust it. This seems especially true with fairway woods, though, and the concept has been borne out in my conversations with golfers. Many people have told me their 3-wood or 5-wood or 4-wood is their favorite, mostly because they get consistent good results with it. (Try gathering 10 people to say that about a 3-iron.and have someone pick up your mail and newspaper while youre traveling around the world to find them.)
It may be because of the mass behind the ball or the low center of gravity, or both, but dont underestimate the effects of look and fit. Barney Adams and others insist that you have to like the look of the club at address if its to inspire the confidence you need to make a good swing. And getting a club ' mostly a shaft in that club ' to fit that swing makes all the difference in the world when youre trying to smooth a 3-wood off the deck for a 210-yard direct flight to the flagstick.
That said
On shorter par 5s of the kind many of us recreational players find on the courses we play, eagle setups are possible if you have the second shot equipment you need. Assuming, as we must, a good drive, the question becomes, Does your 3-wood (or whatever) get the job done?
Be realistic: 510 yards may be a dream, but 485 could work. If you bang a 250-yard drive, yes, you can probably chase a 3-wood up there. But not if you dont have the shaft that gets the most out of your swing.
Heres where the pro comes in. Consult with your pro and/or clubfitter to see if theres a way to get more distance, more accurate distance, from your fairway woods. This way, you can use them not just as distance-getters on second shots, but as what Adams calls point-to-point weapons as well.
The Rules of Golf allow clubs such as the Baffler, the Ginty, the Knife ' innovative head designs with rails along the bottom to push grass out of the way. These clubs can be lifesavers from cabbagey rough, saving many a round. Even a conventional 5-wood with a relatively flat sole, because of its low center of gravity and head size, gets through the salad more effectively than irons. (Less likely to twist, too.)
There seems to be a macho thing involved in wanting to carry 2-, 3-, and even 4-irons. And yes, Donald Ross said the long iron shot is the supreme test of expert golf. But if the fundamental objective of golf is to get the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes (trust me, it is), long irons dont give you as much to work with as fairway woods. Experiment with replacement. Any misgivings about how your bag stacks up tend to evaporate when you look up and see a stunning 4-wood heading straight for puttable real estate. (Compare that with the clunky feeling in your hands and the reflex-action recitation, Fore right!)
Trial and error, our old friend, remains the best way to see how many irons you should lose, and on what courses. There are times when you might want to put the 4-iron back in (suppose there are three long par-3s with bailout room on the course youll be playing, for example) and take the 5- or 6-wood out; pros adjust their bags this way all the time.
Thanks for checking in. Join us for our next show, Wednesday, July 2, when we take on the subject of golf fitnessand I work out with the ladies of the Arizona State University golf team. (There were no paramedics involved.)
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.