Short Game Made Easy
Do you have trouble chipping and pitching? Chunking and blading shots you could kick closer? Even the yips? Let me help.
Buying a gimmick on the Golf Channel will not solve it. But you can. You are in control!
The proper way to strike chip shots and pitches is with the big muscles (the chest, torso or core-one of these will work). For this article, lets assume we have a normal, flat-ish lie.
Lets get specific in the set up. And when i speak of set up, these thoughts need to be all done in your mind and in the same order, every time. This then becomes part of a reliable routine that gives you the best chance at success. I will list the specific steps below in no particular order, this is up to you to decide.
Width of stance is easy to remember- the closer you are, the more NARROW and OPEN your stance should be. I would want you to be like this as this is a finesse shot, not a power shot requiring your legs to use ground force pressure. Your stance needs to be open as this promotes a turn with the body, not a flip of the wrists.
Weight distribution could be anywhere from 50/50 to 70/30. So long as it doesn’t transfer much back and forth. Lower body needs to be super stable and not swaying around. You are not trying to “help” the ball in the air by moving your weight back. It is actually quite the opposite!
Depending on your lie, you would choke down on the grip slightly, again, this is a controlled, finesse shot.
Ball position really can be from inside of your back heel to the inside of your front heel, depending on the shot. The reality is your stance is narrow so there is not that big of a difference from these positions.
No matter what wedge you are using, you would want to set the blade slightly OPEN, as this exposes the bounce on the bottom of the wedge. In another article i will explain why this is crucial. This does not mean you will strike these shots any higher, it means you will have a better chance of NOT digging and using the wedge the way it was designed to be used.
I used to teach hands forward, but now i am more specific-either your hands start on your front pocket, or better still, your lead arm and the shaft start on one continuous line. This is not de-lofting the club, this is the true loft. Again, I will explain this in a future article.
And last thing for the set up, make your arms start long and stay long. Not stiff with muscle, but like you are reaching for something.
Now the easy part, striking the shot! Your long arms should squeeze into your chest or your torso, looking like an old New York Islanders “Y”. Now your torso does all if the work. The torso turns the “Y” back, then turns the “Y” through, no hands, no wrists. Your wrists can be soft, and as you start turning your torso more for longer pitch shots, then your wrists might lag a touch on the downswing.
Your upper arms should start and stay in front of your torso, especially into the finish position.
A good drill for this is to get an alignment rod. Set it under your grip so about 2 feet of it stick out past the butt end of the grip. Some of you will notice how far forward your hands feel. This is proper, as the alignment rod is angles towards the target and/or on the target side of your zipper. Now you can strike shots with the goal of NOT smacking yourself with the alignment rod before or at impact. For shots around the green, you should never smack yourself. As you get out to 40-50 yards, you might hit yourself well after impact, and this is ok.
These shots are truly easy if you make all of this part of your new routine. In fact, you don’t have to pray for hitting these shots out of longer grass using a 7 iron anymore. You will crave and see the advantage of striking these off of a tight lie. Now you are in control!
Any comments, questions or concerns, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact me here for any lesson inquiries as well. I look forward to it!
About the author
Clinton Schmaltz is the Director of Instruction at The Willows Golf Club. He has been a Class A Professional for 21 years, working at great Clubs and teaching many great people along the way. He has been nominated the last 6 years in a row for Teacher of the Year in the Saskatchewan Zone, but has pulled a “Susan Lucci” so far.