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Original Issue

Technique for the middle irons

The five-iron is one of my favorite clubs because, of all the sticks, it seems to be the most natural utility club. If you want to hit it a little lower, you just move the ball back. If you want to hit it a little higher, you move it up a bit. You do the same with all the clubs to modify the flight of your shots, of course, but the five, maybe because it is the middle iron, somehow hits me as most adaptable for playing particular golf shots particular ways. Ordinarily I play the five with the ball in the center of my stance and I try to cut across the ball just a shade from left to right. You tend to pull across the ball if you try to come into it dead square.

When I'm playing the five and the other middle irons, the main thing I concentrate on is swinging with an even tempo, letting the clubhead do the job and not trying to increase the tempo and speed of my swing just before impact. Most of the 80-and 90-golfers I see forget all about tempo with the middle irons. This accounts for the fact that for every green they hit with these clubs, they hit six or seven approaches into the traps either on the left or right of the green. Granted that the average golfer can't wait for the clubhead as long as a pro can, but he can wait longer than he thinks he can. If he works on waiting just that split second longer, rather than powering the ball and getting the shot over with, he'll play better shots because he has to use the clubhead if he waits on it. So wait on it, men.

Tommy Bolt, Paradise Golf Club, Crystal River, Fla.



NEXT WEEK: Charley Petrino on the eight-iron