When I put a two-, three- or four-iron in my hand, my left hand instinctively tends to get stronger on the club than it does when I grip a wood or a middle or high iron. It actually feels like there is a change of grip on the long irons, but there isn't—it's just a stronger grip. This is my reaction to the long irons after practicing them for many years and consciously working to strengthen the left-hand grip. You want to pull down very firmly with the left hand on those shots, and with a good, strong left-hand grip you are more apt to do this.
My brother Lionel says I am a good long-iron player because I always get the full distance from the club. To my mind, this is the result of making my main thought elevation and not direction. Instead of trying to drive the ball down and on a low line on the long irons, I think of meeting the ball solid. I try to wind my arc through the ball as I do on a fairway wood, to sweep the ball away as I do on a wood. The ball has a slightly higher trajectory than an accentuated low long iron does, but this seems to me a good thing. I take a very thin cut of turf if I take any.
Start with that extra-firm left hand and try to wind your arc through the ball on the long irons, and I feel certain your experience will be a duplicate of mine: your whole conception of the shot will change, and you will gain a consistency you hardly dreamed was possible.
On the long irons the left hand should grip the club a bit more firmly than on the other shots.
JAY HEBERT, Mayfair Inn CC, Sanford, Fla.
NEXT WEEK: Dick Mayer on putting from 12 feet in