Revisiting the “schwerve”By Golden Tee Fan • Category: Features, Using the track ball •
The schwerve (schwervy) refers to a B1 or B3 shot, and it’s important enough that I wanted to bring it back for discussion. I see several players lose strokes because they are scared to play this shot, but I think it’s just because they don’t fully understand it and its potential!
Usually, you use a schwerve as a mini-hook around an obstacle directly in front of you. So, your target is straight ahead, but maybe you have some tree branches you’re scared of clipping. The simple solution is to play a little B1 or B3 to go around the branches and come back in at the target.
More advanced players use the schwerve to optimize their angle of approach into the flag where the slope of the green or the wind might otherwise move the ball away from the pin. Let’s say the flag is on the extreme right side of the green. If there’s a moderate wind blowing left, or if the green slopes left, it’s going to be difficult to stick it close to the pin. More than likely, amateur players are going to end up in the middle of the green (if they play safe), or run the risk of missing right, off the green (if they play aggressively). In these situations, the schwerve allows you to fight the wind or the slope by coming in at the opposite angle. So here, you’d play a B1-type shot to come in at a right-to-left angle, increasing your chances of sticking the ball by the cup.
Of course, wind is always going to be a consideration. You won’t always be pulling back exactly to B. Remember, you pull back to where you want the ball to end up, so that’s the first thing you figure out. Then, you can apply the “schwerve” to optimize your angle of approach!
For free practice hitting a schwerve, just try it while teeing off on an easy, non-drivable par 4. Keep your eye on the point in the middle of the fairway where you expect the ball to end up, and then note where it actually does end up. Also note the degree of curve you just created on the shot and the angle at which the ball came in towards the target. Practice this with all the clubs in your bag, because the angle and distance the ball comes back towards center varies with each club. Here is a list of roughly what you can expect from each of the clubs by hitting a full B1 or B3. For example, the driver will come back about 10 degrees past center, but the 7-iron will come back only about 10 degrees short of center (assuming a flat landing surface with no wind):
Driver — 10 degrees past center
3-wood — 5 degrees past center
5-wood — about center
2-iron/hybrid — 15 degrees past center
3-iron/hybrid — 10 degrees past center
4-iron/hybrid — 5 degrees past center
5-iron/hybrid — about center
6-iron — 5 degrees short of center
7-iron — 10 degrees short of center
8-iron — 15 degrees short of center
9-iron — 20 degrees short of center
SW — 25 degrees short of center
LW — 30 degrees short of center
Notice how the low-lofted clubs come back past center, but the high-lofted clubs don’t come back all the way to center. Keep this in mind when practicing these shots! Also remember how much the wind affects the high-lofted clubs as opposed to the low-lofted ones! Finally, notice that if you pull back to B but hit between 1 and 2, the ball only hooks about half as much, and the wind will take it more here as well.
One final note to remember — when trying to stick a green with a schwerve, remember that the backspin will take it the direction its headed. So, let’s say you schwerve a 5-iron into the green with a B3. With no spin, it would land a little right of center but roll to about center. But, WITH backspin, it will land just right of center, but then the backspin will pull it slightly left of center.
So, hopefully you have a better understanding of the schwerve, and now you can go out and practice it on the course! Feel free to leave comments if you have anything to add!