On a clear shot to the green from a distance which seems to require a nine-iron, it is often a much better bet for the middle- or high-handicap golfer to reach for his eight-iron instead. He's more apt to hit the ball cleanly and won't be pressing for distance. I mention this because the eight-iron is becoming one of the least used clubs these days, people frequently thinking that the nine-iron (by not being the wedge) can get them farther than it can.
When using the eight-iron, take it back on a rather upright arc to cultivate greater club control and reduce the margin for error, but don't let this lead you into making too short a backswing. This is bound to produce an uneven, jumpy stroke. On the downswing rely on the considerable loft of the club face to get the ball up for you and concentrate on bringing the club face down through the ball. Hitting down through the ball creates control and backspin, while the golfer who thinks he must scoop the ball off the turf with hand or shoulder action will find himself topping it with the sole of his club.
In playing the eight-iron and its cousin clubs in the pitching division, keep in the forefront of your mind that no great pivoting motion of the hips is required. In fact, forget about the pivot. The inside-out motion of the arms on the downswing supplies all the pivot you really need.
CHARLEY PETRINO, Brooklawn CC, Bridgeport, Conn.
Hitting down through the ball creates control and backspin
NEXT WEEK: Marilynn Smith on the role of the right elbow