6 holes with a 7-iron

May 12, 2012

In keeping with JK’s recent advice to mix things up, and because my back probably would have given out had I tried to carry a full bag of clubs due to straining it at the gym, I decided to play a few holes with only one club – my 7-iron.  I’ve toyed with this idea a few times since reading about it in a post on the Sandtrap forum almost 2 years ago.  My reason for waiting this long is mainly a lack of time to play generally.  It’s hard to convince myself that I should spend the 9 holes that I get once every other week doing anything but playing real golf.  The results from the “tin cup” experiment, however, suggest to me that this might be as pure a golf experience as any other.

One of the more interesting results of this experiment occurred nowhere near the course.  Most people could not believe anyone would actually go out to the course with only one club.  Even a guy in the parking lot gave me a double take.  The starter in the clubhouse gave me a quick laugh and said “good luck.”   I was paired with three other regular shoreline duffers.  Halfway up the first fairway, each of the three players had offered to lend me clubs at least once.  They simply could not believe that I, by choice, had come to the course with only one club.  “Are you going to putt with it too?!?”  Yes sir, I am.

So what did I learn?  Well, I can do a lot more with a 7-iron than I thought.  Though I normally carry my 7-iron about 165 yards, I learned that I can purposefully blade it about 200 off the tee, bump and run it from about 30 yards (not very well), and can actually get pretty solid roll on the green with it when I pin it to my left arm a la Matt Kuchar.  Most importantly, I learned I can hit my 7-iron a lot farther than I thought I could when I’m not thinking about how far I need to hit the ball.

The first hole at Shoreline measures 489 yards from the white tee.  I teed off with my trusty 7, laid up with my trusty 7 to about 130 yards, and hit my approach with my trusty 7.  Unfortunately, hit it a little too flush and the wind took it over the green.  My first pitch was my first miscue of the day, but I lined up a nice 4 footer and dunked it for a bogey.

The second hole showed me exactly how far I could hit a 7 iron.  When I think back now, I hit a poor shot off the tee trying to get as much distance as possible.  From the left rough, I took a nice, smooth swing and left it about 20 yards from the green.  The total distance on the second was at least 180 yards (into the wind) on a nice low trajectory.  I guess it’s true – when it’s breezy, swing easy.

Having only one club afforded me another advantage – I played a virtually light speed.  I was able to tee off before the group in front of us had hit their second shots (most of the time), my rhythm was not interrupted by the slow play of my group, and I had nothing to carry with me!  Talk about taking all of the annoying parts of muni golf out of the game.  I played so quickly, in fact, that our group of 4 ended up skipping holes 3-6 because a three-some and a two-some were holding us up!

It also took a lot of the guess-work out of the round.  Other than never having to think about what club I was going to have to hit, having only one club made every shot clear.  Off the tee, there was no stress.  I was ALWAYS  going to hit the fairway with my 7-iron.  From the fairway, if I couldn’t get to the green, I had to leave myself in position where I could bump and run the ball onto the green.  This meant playing the green, not the flag.  Putting was a different story.  Admittedly, I only figured it out after finishing the 9th hole, but I was able to hit a couple of nice chip/putts to save bogeys.

While I don’t think it’s something I’d do every day, playing a round with one club was a lot of fun.  It completely took the pressure off the round to play well and let me have more fun.  If you’re stuck in the golf doldrums, try playing 9 holes with only one club.  Without a doubt, you’ll find yourself in new places on a course you’ve played hundreds of times.  If you’re like me, the one club experiment may help you realize that golf is just a game.  Forget the swing thoughts, forget the mind games, just hit the ball.  It’s going to go straight.  It’s going to go a predictable distance.  After that, take what the course gives you and try to awkwardly slap in a putt.  The best part is that, bogeys/doubles are great scores!  I’ve made worse than bogey at one several times at 1 with 14 clubs!  I proved that I only need one to do better than all of those previous attempts.

This is a crazy game sometimes, but I feel like I figured out a little bit more of that craziness with this little experiment.  I recommend grabbing whatever club you can use to comfortably carry any hazards you know of on your home course.  Then, play one or two sets of tees farther up than you usually do.  Interestingly, I doubt anyone would have said anything had I played from the red tees.  From there, just grab a couple of old golf balls and make your way to the first tee.  Even if you don’t play well, who cares?  You should have had 13 other clubs, right?

 

 

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2 Responses to “6 holes with a 7-iron”

  1. Chris Beall Says:

    Love this post. It made me remember showing up at Flatirons, Boulder’s muni, one spring day and opening the trunk of my car to find – no bag! Oops – forgot the clubs in the other car. But there was an old Ping Eye 2 black dot 9 iron. Well – it was play the 9 iron or go home. Going home ain’t golf, so out I went, paired up with a stranger. Same thing you describe, LG. Got lucky, made a bunch of putts, had a blast, shot a bit of a score, and learned a bunch. And haven’t done it since.


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