How’d He Hit That: Snedeker’s Eagle Hole Out

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

Sedgefield Country Club, host of this week’s PGA Tour event, The Wyndham Championship, has been known to give up some low scores over the years. We were treated to an awesome 59 by Brandt Snedeker during the first round. A barrage of birdies was topped by a hole-out for eagle on the 6th hole, his 15th hole of the day, by the 2009 champion.

Snedeker finished the 2017 season as one of the better players on Tour approaching the green, averaging .339 strokes gained on the field and hitting 68% of his greens.

What makes pros so good and Brandt, in particular, is making swing adjustments to accommodate in-between yardages to the hole. We often hear players remark after both good and bad rounds how they had “perfect numbers” or “kept getting bad numbers.”  What they are referring to is the yardage they were left into the green after a drive; a good day finds a player landing on distances that are close to his full-shot yardages, which is very easy to execute under tournament pressure.

Snedeker excels at adjusting his swing to make almost all numbers a good number. How does he do this? Let’s examine his backswing to find out how you can play better from in-between distances and make either clubbing up or down work in your favor.

The Setup

  • When you are looking to play from an in-between yardage and the shot includes any of the following factors take the longer club: uphill, into the wind, trouble short, playing from beyond the pin or putting from the back of the green is preferred.
  • Choose to club down if these circumstances are present; trouble long, beyond the pin is very difficult to putt from, the shot plays downhill, the shot is playing downwind.
  • Now that the right club has been selected, alter the ball position. Play the ball slightly back of normal to add about 5 yards to the shot or move it slightly forward to decrease the distance by 5 yards. Moving the ball back/forward will add/decrease the playing loft at impact.

Note: Choking up an inch or half an inch will limit the distance your shot will travel as well. Choking up on a 7-iron will give you 8.5-iron distance.  This is a simple way to adjust for high handicap players who have a harder time limiting the backswing.

The Swing

  • Pay attention to how Snedeker limited his backswing knowing that he already has a short and fast tempo swing. Keep your tempo that fits you but look to shorten the backswing to dial in the exact distance when you are clubbing up and playing more club to fit a number.
  • For shots that you need to get more out of, the club emphasizes a full turn going back and accelerating all parts of the swing through impact and finishing with all your weight and pressure on the lead side (left side for right-handed golfers). If this is done correctly your chest will be pointed at or slightly left of the target.