Welcome to Play Smart, a game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen (who you can follow on Twitter right here).
In a special edition of Play Smart, GOLF & ADP have partnered to uncover how the best players in the world prepare for the biggest events and how it can help you play smarter, better golf.
When Max Homa hits the range to prepare for his round, there’s one club above all else that will dictate how his round will go.
“My 7-iron,” he says. “That’s the club I go through all my shots with.”
Ordinarily, standing on the range and blasting 7-irons into the distance is pretty much the worst thing most golfers can do, because it puts golfers in an unrealistic comfort zone.
After all, how often do you get to hit the same club on back-to-back shots, in rapid succession, from the same spot?
“That’s not golf,” GOLF Top 100 Teacher Sean Foley says. “When amateur golfers have a shot above your feet, into wind, with bunkers right and the pin left that practice isn’t going to help you.”
Except Homa is using his 7-iron differently than the rest of us.
After starting with chip shots and working his way up to full swings with a wedge, Homa pulls out his 7-iron and uses it for the majority of his range session. He’ll hit a stock 7 and then alternate between high and low shots, draws and fades. He’ll aim at different target for each shot along the way.
“I want the most middle club in my bag, so I can get comfortable with my setup and my shots,” he says. “If I know I’ll need to hit more low ones on the course, I’ll practice a few more of those.”
With the 7-iron comprising the bulk of his pre-round warmup, he’ll quickly move through some longer irons and drivers before heading to the course, ready for the day.
As for what the rest of us can learn from Homa’s approach? It’s less about the specific club and more about how he uses it. Practicing hitting different shots in the range will prepare you for what’s to come on when you’re in unpredictable situations on the course itself.
In doing so you’ll get comfortable with the uncomfortable, which is an essential ingredient to golf.