Master The Short Game

Get Up and Down From Everywhere

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12. Visualize Your Shot Before You Swing.
When you visualize an action (hitting a golf shot, driving a car, etc.), you use up to 80% of your brain’s neural structures that you use to perform the rehearsed action or behavior. Consider that Jack Nicklaus first visualized his ballflight, then the swing that would produce that flight. I want my students to do the same.

Too often, golfers think of what they should not do (“don’t chunk it,” “don’t slice it”) when they should really think about what to do (“draw it” “hit it at the pin”). Unfortunately our brains don’t discriminate between “do” and “don’t”; they just recognize the images of what we say.

The next time you play, whether you’re pitching or hitting a tee shot, work on visualizing your shot. Pick very specific targets (the corner of the flag, a leaf in the distance) and imagine the shot you want to hit toward that intended target.

13. Target And Ball Position Determine Trajectory.
Where you place the ball in your stance changes your club’s loft at impact and your shot’s trajectory. The farther back you play the ball, the less loft your club has and the lower the ballflight will be (hands moved ahead of the ball subtracts loft from the club). Similarly if your hands are even with your belt buckle, you’ll add loft to the club and hit it higher. Don’t get too cute. Just change your ball position to control your trajectory on pitch shots. It’s the easiest way to mix up your shot selection.

14. Abbreviate Your Finish For More Spin.
To add more spin to your pitch shots, drive down and through the ball and “hang on” when you finish, releasing more of your body and less of your hands. Make an abbreviated backswing, and then as you swing down, retain the angle between your left wrist and the clubshaft. This increase in lag (the club and your forearm should form the letter “L”) helps you load power in the full swing.

You should abbreviate your finish also so that your followthrough is the mirror image of your backswing “L” shape. This ensures that you’ll “pinch” the ball and get more spin. Play the ball farther back in your stance to get more spin, too.

15. How Your Wedges
Dictate Shot Type. Like your putter, wedges are your scoring instruments. They’re designed to get the ball close to the cup. But they come in a wide range of lofts, from 48° to 64°. Many Tour pros carry four wedges with them. A key thing to keep in mind is that you should leave a maximum of four degrees between each wedge. If I carry a 56° and my next lowest wedge is a 50°, the gap is too big between my clubs.

Most clubs have four degrees of loft difference between them, which creates an 8- to 15-yard distance gap between clubs. If you have too much loft variability in your wedges, you’ll find yourself between clubs more often than not. If you separate your wedges by four degrees, you’ll find your yardages more easily as you get closer to the green.


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