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.
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.