Improve your technique and master your short game. Get short game instruction to help simplify those critical shots. From holding the club properly to using the right angle, the key to golf's short game is a click away.
Have you ever been told to “hunker down” and get ready? Ever wonder what that means? The word “hunker” has been traced back to German and Dutch origins, meaning to squat, get low and bend the knees. Today, the expression means that and a few things more, including to settle in or to hold resolutely.
For a long time I’ve been doing a drill that I like to call “Milking the Cow.” From the photos, you probably can guess where it got its name. Why is it important to “milk the cow” in your swing? Because it creates a 90° angle between your left arm and your club shaft and, in golf, that’s what we call “lag.”
On the PGA Tour, the ability to get up and down consistently from around the green is critical, and being a good pitcher of the ball makes saving pars a lot easier. The three basic shots you need to know are high, medium and low pitches. Master these three, and you’ll be able to handle just about any situation.
One of the absolute basics of good scoring is solid putting from short to medium range. If you’re confident from these distances, it will take pressure off all your other short-game shots and make you a better lag putter as well.
If you want to control your shots more effectively around the greens, the best thing you can do is set up with a narrow stance and always remember to keep the shaft leaning toward the target. Since it’s a chip shot, you don’t have to worry about releasing the club; instead, you want to hold the face square to ensure optimal directional control. This setup position also helps to avoid flubbed chipped shots—one of the most embarrassing and avoidable shots in golf.
Better pitching is a matter of perfecting your address positions
Playing well from within 100 yards is a must if you want to score well. Just look at the best players in the world. They all miss the fairway sometimes, but from within 100 yards, there isn’t a player out there who doesn’t expect to knock it close from “a hundie” and in. This is golf’s scoring zone, where the difference between a long birdie putt and a short tap-in can be made up by hitting the right kinds of shots.
A 10-foot piece of string is all you need to get your pitching on target.
One of the keys to accurate pitching is getting the clubhead moving consistently down the target line. A great way to practice this is to take a 10-foot piece of string and stretch it out directly on the target line of a pitch shot.
How To Resuscitate Your Short Game With Three Simple Tips
When someone refers to “saving your score” on a particular hole, it typically requires a chip, pitch or bunker shot to get the ball up and down. These three shots can have the biggest impact on your score when learned and executed properly, since you can only do so much to make up strokes from the tee box or on the green.
How you make a practice swing when chipping from off the green is especially critical. First of all, you’re not just trying to calculate how far you need to hit the ball, you’re also trying to determine how high the ball should fly and how much roll you want it to have. Also, a practice stroke helps you to assess the lie, which can range from having a ball that’s sunken down in the rough to one sitting high on the collar. All these variables come into play when making a practice swing, which is why I think it’s critical that every golfer learn my “rehearsal” technique before hitting a chip or pitch shot.
To get it close from inside 100 yards, make sure your swing features these 10 elements
Whether it’s your third shot on a long par-5 or your approach on a short par-4, the full-swing wedge—be it with your gap, sand or pitching iron—is a critical play. All good players accept the short-range shot as a relatively easy opportunity to get up and down for birdies and pars, and do so with the regularity average golfers get up and down from just off the green. The reason: practice.
If only we could tee up every golf shot. We’d always have perfect lies, where no grass or trees or sand could get in the way of making clean contact with the ball. Of course, that isn’t the case. Between the tee and green, we have to surrender to the course and “play the ball as it lies.” That means adjusting to a number of challenging circumstances, such as plugged bunker shots and awkward stances. For this story, I’ve concentrated my efforts on just those types of lies—the ones you get where you look to your playing partners, throw your arms in the air and say “anybody have any suggestions?” Take time to practice these shots, and you won’t wonder what to do the next time you’re faced with an awkward lie.
When you desire a softer type of explosion shot out of the bunker from this normally “hot” lie, you need to employ an open clubface and relaxed hands. Make your angle of attack steeper by leaning your weight toward your front foot. This weight shift also accentuates the digging action of the clubhead, making soft hands and an open clubface that much more critical. Otherwise, the golf ball will come out with more velocity than desired.
They don’t keep stats for it on the PGA Tour, but all pros excel at hitting the mid-range lob. It’s played with your highest-lofted club (usually a lob wedge) from around 30 yards, and it’s one of those shots that, if you pull it off to save par or make birdie, can energize the rest of your round.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous Sam Snead tip, “Hear your putts.” To ensure that he didn’t come out of his putts too early, the “Slammer” held fast in his putting posture until he hopefully heard the ball rattle the bottom of the cup.
The chipping and putting motions are linear in nature. By that, I mean the face remains square to the target line throughout, never opening or closing like it does with full swings from the fairway and the tee. Moreover, the path of the stroke shouldn’t deviate from the target line. Realizing these facts can save a lot of amateur golfers a lot of headaches around the green, where the majority of less-than-skilled players chip the ball with a full-swing technique and leave themselves with a lengthy putt.
There aren’t many shots that touring professionals fear, but if you had to choose one, the buried lie bunker shot would probably take the cake. It’s a shot even more feared among amateurs who have no idea how to approach it, let alone how the ball will react off the clubface and once it hits the green. I’ve always believed that a buried lie isn’t a cause for despair, but rather an opportunity to demonstrate your short-game prowess. With some adjustments to the normal bunker setup, you can accomplish the goal of getting out of the bunker and onto the green every time.
Few shots on the golf course are more satisfying than a well-executed flop shot. Unfortunately, unless you’re Phil Mickelson, the risk is probably not worth the reward. There’s very little margin for error. With the wrong lie, you can swing the club under the ball without advancing it. And, with such a big swing, you’re liable to hit an 80-yard screamer if you catch it thin.
Golfers who are confused about the amount of body action normally associated with a pitch shot can learn from the simple mental image of pitching horseshoes. During this underhanded motion, the arms and body work together in response to the target. The body parts don’t need to be consciously controlled; rather they should react naturally to the command of pitching the horseshoe based on what the eyes see as a target.
The following pre-putt alignment routine is one that I developed with Patrick Burke and teach to each of my students. Its success has been so dramatic that many have adapted it to the full swing. It’s easy to learn and remember as long as you think in right angles.