Sports Illustrated presents a new kind of golf tip, written by one of the professional game's newest and most exciting stars, two-time National Amateur Champion Jack Nicklaus. It will appear as a regular series throughout the spring and early summer. Drawing on his rich experience as one of the best match-play golfers of all time and on his week-to-week play under fire on the pro tour, Nicklaus will bring to these pages an entirely fresh approach, in which strategy, so vital to winning matches and saving strokes, will be balanced against shotmaking
There are numerous occasions, but particularly on windy days, when golfers need both the length of a fairway wood and the control that only a long iron can give. When conditions are right the low, hooked long iron can be effective in achieving this combination. By proper conditions I mean a hard or firm fairway that will offer plenty of roll and a green that is not fronted by hazards.
The second hole at Pebble Beach in California is a good example from my competitive experience. It is also the type of hole I see pretty often on the winter tour. It is a 480-yard par 5. The fairway is firm, and the green, which is firm too, is not trapped directly in front. A high-flying fairway wood shot would be risky, because of a steady wind that sweeps across the hole. Also, the green is backed by an out-of-bounds and is too firm to hold a long-approach hit directly into it.
The first time I played the hole during this year's Crosby I used a long iron for my second shot and hit a low hook under the wind. For this type of shot I always play the ball back nearer my right foot than normally and aim to the right of the target. I bring the clubhead down through the ball very hard, rolling my wrists quickly during impact. You can count on the hard fairway, the low trajectory and the great amount of overspin to give you 10 to 15 more yards than a long iron ordinarily would supply. Because of these factors I was able to roll the ball right up onto the green during that round at the Crosby and then knocked in the putt for an eagle 3.
For low, hooked long-iron shot Nicklaus plays the ball nearer his right foot than usual, hits clown through it with a quick roll of his wrists.