Short-Shot Checklist

To get it close from inside 100 yards, make sure your swing features these 10 elements

Let Your Head Ride7 Let Your Head Ride
One of the major mistakes recreational players commit when hitting wedge shots is lifting the head as the club approaches impact. While lifting the head isn’t that big of a crime, the fact that it brings your left shoulder up and out is. No matter how hard you try, you can’t keep your left shoulder in position if you lift your head.

As your right shoulder swings underneath your chin, allow your head to rotate along with it. This move facilitates shifting weight to the left side, helps keep the spine angle intact and better allows the right shoulder to move toward the target. As the ball sails away, you should be able to track its flight with your right eye looking firmly down the target line.

Shake Hands8 Shake Hands
In golf, you shake hands like a gentleman—you don’t high-five. What this means is that postimpact, your hands remain low and securely above the target line so that you could shake hands with an imaginary person to your left. Notice when you shake hands, how your right shoulder turns under the chin and how the spine maintains its bend. Compare that to high-fiving, where the hands move from impact to above the shoulders almost immediately. This fault tends to negate weight shift and, more damaging, hinders the ability to hit down and through the ball. Keep your hands low!

Remember Your Rights9 Remember Your Rights
The most important move in the downswing is to move your right shoulder toward the target and under your chin. If you keep it behind the chin (away from the target), you’ll create either an early release or an ugly-looking scoop motion. Be careful not to simply turn your shoulders—this easily can lead to pulls. The right shoulder turns, but it turns down the target line. Guess what’s in the way? Your chin. Now you get the idea.

Pose for the Camera10 Pose For The Camera
A good finish and a good swing go hand in hand, which is why I suggest you make a few practice swings before each shot with a focus not on mechanics, but on moving your body into a comfortable finish. Make a practice swing, then pose for the camera and recall how nice the picture looked when you start the real thing. Sounds elementary, but thinking finish first can—and will—have a positive effect on your technique.

Fifty-year instruction veteran Marshall Smith teaches out of Peoria Ridge GC in northeastern Oklahoma.



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