Short Game Success!

Short shots that will help you gain confidence and shoot lower scores

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If you're comfortable using one wedge around the green, so be it! Here are a few ways to make some setup variations to affect how the ball reacts to the face. To hit a low shot, play the ball back in your stance a bit, narrow your feet, and put the hands ahead of the ball so the shaft is leaning at the target. Don't worry about opening or closing the face.

For a medium-height shot, the adjustments are pretty simple. Widen the stance to just inside shoulder-width, and play the ball in the center of your stance with either a vertical shaft or a tiny bit of shaft lean toward the target. Again, don't mess with the face angle.

To hit a high ball, widen your stance considerably, play the ball more toward your left foot, and allow the shaft to lean away from the target a little bit. Just a word of caution: When you lean the shaft away like I am here, you're adding extra bounce to the sole. This makes it tough to hit it high on tight lies. So try this shot only when you have a nice cushion of grass beneath the ball.

Once you get into the prescribed setup position for hitting a low shot, there's one more variation I want you to include. Get the shaft vertical! When you do this, not only do you de-loft the wedge at impact, you allow it to be swung more like a putter, which will help keep the ball low. Remember to keep the hands quiet through the stroke, limiting wrist hinge on the backswing and into the finish. With practice, you may find this low-chip shot to be a very useful one when you have a shot that requires only a small amount of carry and a lot of rollout.

To hit the medium shot, again, the key for success is to rotate the body and keep the hands nice and quiet. As you can see in this sequence, my wrists don't hinge that much, and I manage to keep the clubhead low on the way back and low through the followthrough. You can see the back of my watch in all four photos. Also, notice how, through impact, my shoulders have rocked and opened, along with some opened rotation of the hips. That's actually how I recommend you hit chip shots, and use the rotation of the upper body and not the small, hard-to-control muscles in the hands and fingers.

Hitting the high shot means taking the high-shot setup and then lowering the hands so the shaft is on a flatter plane. When you do this, you allow for more wrist hinge going back and through, which helps hit the ball higher in the air. Notice, though, that my basic motion isn't much different than the medium shot. I still rotate mostly with the upper body and use my body as the main source of momentum for the stroke, not my hands.


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