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Friday, April 24, 2009

Make the Short Game Easy

Golf is a tough game, and I’m sure we’ve all witnessed otherwise rational people reduced to cussing out inanimate objects in frustration while playing this great game. One of the most frustrating parts of the game though occurs around the green. You may hit two beautiful shots that cover 450 yards or more and then spend 4 more excruciating shots just trying to get the ball the last 20 or 30 yards into the hole. Talk about frustrating!

Most people understand the importance of a good short game, but they just don’t know how to improve. I see many players of all handicap ranges struggle around the greens and I think that it is because they are making the short game too hard on themselves! Part of the problem lies with watching the pros on TV and in golf magazines spinning lob wedges from anywhere to a foot from the pin. What people need to understand is that this is the pro’s full-time job and they spend countless hours practicing their short games.

For the average golfer that plays once or twice a week at most, the precision required to hit the shots that the pros hit is not practical. But there is some very good news here; you don’t need to hit those hard shots all the time! In fact, most of the time, just by changing the club you use on these shots, they become much easier! I can’t tell you how many people I see that use a sand wedge for all shots around the green, and more often than not, I see them blade it over the green or chunk it short of the green!

There is a better way!

In golf, the smaller swing is always easier to pull off than the bigger swing. Why take a big swing with a sand or lob wedge and try to fly the ball all the way to the hole when you’re just off the green with a ton of green to work with? Learn to use a less lofted club that allows you to take as small a swing possible and get the ball rolling to the hole as soon as possible. This is much easier, requires much less practice and your misses will end up much closer to the hole! Most importantly, your scores will go down!

For almost all shots around the green, I either use an 8 iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge or lob wedge, depending on the lie and how much green there is to work with. The club to pick is the one that will land 2-3 feet onto the green and roll the rest of the way to the hole. One rule of thumb I like to use for which club to use goes like this: On a flat lie, an 8 iron will fly ¼ of the way to the hole and roll the other ¾ of the way, a pitching wedge will fly 1/3 of the way and roll out 2/3 of the way to the hole. A sand wedge will fly ½ way to the hole and roll the other ½. Finally, a lob wedge will fly 2/3 of the way and roll the other 1/3 of the way. The important thing to note here is to take into account the slope of the green as a green that is sloped into you will roll much less than normal and a green sloped away from you will roll much more than normal.

Using a smaller swing on short shots makes the short game so much easier and more fun, and isn’t that the point of the game after all?

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