Short Game School

Shoot Lower Scores Now!

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Throw Vs. Drag

On the other hand (literally!), hitting high flop shots tends to be a right-hand-dominated move. To practice, grab a sand or lob wedge with just your right hand. Create a wider stance and try to hit a few flop shots. At first it's pretty challenging, but this one drill has cured the pitching woes of some of the world's best players. The key is to be patient and swing in rhythm. That means allowing your body turn and arm swing to work in harmony without trying to "muscle" the shot. Let gravity work in your favor, and contact will effortlessly occur. Just as the left-handed swing was dragging the handle toward the ball, the right-handed swing will actually feel as if you're "throwing" the head past the handle through the hit. This motion produces maximum loft, sending the ball easily up and over.

Another great way to control the trajectory of your pitches, and also to gain better feel and rhythm is to hit shots swinging with only one hand. To start, let's look at how the left hand works. A left-handed swing employs what I call "drag." This means that the driving of the left hand forward into the strike effectively pulls the handle ahead of the clubhead. This handle-first attitude, delofts the face producing a low-running hit.

After a few practice strokes, go ahead and swing with both hands, but in your mind, still focus on feeling a left-hand-dominant movement. You'll be surprised at how quickly your chipping will turn the corner with this one simple drill.

Bonus: Cover Your Impact Spot

In the bunker, here's a swing thought I want you to have. The sand shot really isn't that unlike any other shot, except for the fact that you're hitting off the sand. It's the only shot in golf where you're better off hitting an inch or so behind the ball! That should make things easier, right? In a perfect world, yes, it does. But too many amateurs overcomplicate the bunker shot, thinking they have to shovel the ball out of the sand and lift it to safety. When, in reality, a bunker shot is a pretty easy one.

Try this the next time you find yourself in a greenside bunker. Pick a target about an inch behind the ball. Once you get it, ignore the golf ball completely. Don't even look at it. Stay focused on that spot, and set up over that spot as though a golf ball was right on top of it.

Once set up, here's all you need to do. While still focusing on that spot, I want you to swing your wedge and scoop a dollar-sized divot of sand right on top of it and try to splash that divot onto the green. So that means you need to hit it hard enough, deep enough and with enough speed in order to blast your divot out toward the hole.

Try that. Take the focus off the golf ball, since you're not trying to make clean contact with it anyway. The goal is to hit the sand behind the ball, and let the mound of sand formed between your ball and clubface lift the ball softly into the air and up onto the green. With a few tries, I bet you'll start swinging more confidently and aggressively in the sand, which are two keys toward becoming a better bunker player.

Jeff Ritter, PGA operates the Jeff Ritter Golf Academy at the Raven Golf Club-Phoenix, in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information, visit


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