Copyright (c) 2009 Jack Moorehouse
Every one likes hitting bombs off the tee. There's nothing more satisfying in golf than that, especially if there's a crowd watching. But you don't have to be a long hitter to have a low golf handicap. In fact, one former PGA champion sees several advantages to being a short hitter. Paul Runyan, who won the PGA Championship in 1934 is only 5 feet, 7 inches tall. He hit drives that seldom exceeded 235 yards during in winning that championship.
While Paul might have a harder time winning a Tour event on today's longer courses, that doesn't mean we can't learn something from his victory in 1934 or what he has to say. As Paul liked to remind people, short hitters have a few advantages themselves. In fact, short hitters can beat long hitters if they play to their strengths, even on the tour. For us, Runyan's observations provide interesting golf tips for the average golfer. Simply put, they say that even short hitters can achieve a single digit golf handicap.
Advantages of A Short Hitter In his later years Runyan liked to say that short hitters have a few advantages over long hitters. For example, short hitters hit into fewer hazards off the tee. Short hitters usually have a hard time reaching those difficult fairway bunkers that populate many fairways. Long hitters like the challenge of carrying the ball over water hazards and bunkers. But that type of thinking, says Runyan, gets you in trouble, if miss the fairway. (Hazeltine National Country Club, the site of this year's PGA Championship, added more fairway bunkers this year for the tournament.)
Another advantage for short hitters, observes Runyan, is that must improve their keep their short games and keep them sharp. Players who can't reach par 5s or long par 4s in two tend to play more short approaches shots and other greenside shots. Therefore, they develop better good short games to compensate for a lack of distance than long hitters. More importantly, they keep them sharp because they use them more. When the time comes for them to make a tough short game shot, they have the confidence and skill to make these shots. That's not always the case with long hitters.
The First To Hit A third advantage, says Runyan, is that short hitters are often the first to hit from the fairway. That's key in match play. Hitting first provides an opportunity to put pressure on your opponent by hitting a good shot. It's a strategy Walter Hagen used to his advantage match play. Hagen wasn't a short hitter. But he would often hit an iron off the tee just so he could hit his second shot before his opponent. That put the pressure on his opponent to match Hagen's shot.
A fourth advantage is that in long hitter/short hitter matches, the pressure is on the long hitters. They don't like losing to short hitters and often tighten up based on that prospect. Obviously, this is an ego thing. Not every long hitter succumbs to his or her frustration. But if the short hitter keeps the match close, chances are the big hitter will get frustrated coming down to the last few holes. That frustration could turn into extra shots on the hole. Golfballs.com
Makes Some Good Points Runyan makes some good points. Short hitters can compete favorably with long hitters, especially in match play. And they do have some advantages. But that doesn't mean you should stop taking golf lessons on hitting with more power. Distance is a good thing if you are accurate. Hitting a pitching wedge into the green from the fairway beats hitting a 7-iron into the green from the fairway every time-at least as far as I'm concerned. I think most golfers feel the same.
But I glean two other good takeaway golf tips from Runyan observations. One is you still need a good short game, whether a long hitter or a short hitter. It's the quickest way to reduce your golf handicap. If you're short game isn't good, take golf lessons and work diligently to produce it. Second, stay within yourself when you play. If you're a short hitter, don't over swing trying to nit a bomb. If your tee shots land in the fairway more often than not, you improve your chance of reducing your average scores and your golf handicap dramatically.
Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book "How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros." He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips, golf lessons and golf instruction.