The fourth primary fundamental in the pyramid is the all-important one of speed. With many players on the PGA Tour hitting the ball over 300 yards and Bryson DeChambeau hitting drives over 400 yards, everyone knows the value of speed. However, there is more to the story.
Mark Broadie has shown us through his extensive research that approach shots to the green is where the top players can really separate themselves from the rest of the PGA Tour when it comes to strokes gained. This means that these players are able to control the distance that they hit their irons shots with regularity. This can only be done if a player can control his/her speed through the ball. Very few times do we end up with that perfect number where we can swing full and feel that the ball will go the right distance. Most irons shots require some degree of adjusting speed through impact. This is where the greats excel.
A great form of practicing speed control that I worked on with my coach, Evan Schiller, is to go through a slow to fast progression. Take an iron and hit 3 shots 10 yards with a full swing, then 3 shots 20 yards, 30 yards, etc. until you reach full distance. Then try to hit 3 shots 10 yards farther than full distance. As you go through this exercise you are increasing awareness of your swing tendencies and also how and when you accelerate the club. Repeat this exercise with different clubs in the bag and you will find that you are much better at controlling and applying speed.
Training in the gym to increase the athletic potential to create clubhead speed along with working on building a reliable fundamentally sound swing will allow a golfer to maximize clubhead speed. Clubhead speed means distance and distance means shorter approach shots, but there is also the important ability to be able to control speed. Distance control with irons is where great players tend to separate themselves from the competition. Practicing 3/4 swings and making the proper adjustments to keep the ball on line should be an essential part of anyone’s practice plan.