Archive for Golf Short Game

Improve Your Pitch Shot

As begin­ner and high hand­i­cap golfers improve their game, they become increas­ing pro­fi­cient in get­ting near the green in reg­u­la­tion. They are putting in a lot of work on their full swing and that is show­ing results in get­ting near the green in one stroke on a par 3, two strokes on a par 4, and three strokes on a par 5. Many times this leaves an awk­ward 20 to 50 yard pitch shot left to the green.

Ama­teurs often strug­gle with the pitch shot. The biggest rea­son for this is that the pitch shot is not a full swing dis­tance for their sand wedge. Ama­teurs are some­times not sure the best way to con­trol dis­tance. Many try to vary the dis­tance of their shot by chang­ing the pace of their swing. This is extreme­ly chal­leng­ing and requires a great deal of feel. A bet­ter way to con­trol the dis­tance of your pitch shot is to keep your nor­mal pace but vary the length of your swing.

Prac­tice your pitch shots with vary­ing swing lengths. Know how far you hit your pitch shot when you take your hands back to waist high and back through to waist high. Do the same for oth­er ref­er­ence points, like tak­ing your hands back and through to shoul­der high, for exam­ple. By prac­tic­ing your pitch shots with dif­fer­ent length swings on the range, you will have much more con­fi­dence pitch­ing on the course. The rea­son is sim­ple. You will know how long your swing has to be to hit your pitch shot far enough to reach the hole.

Check out the video below as Thor Lokey explains vary­ing your swing length to dial in your pitch­ing dis­tances.

The Wedges You Need in Your Golf Bag

The rules of golf state you can have no more than four­teen clubs in your bag. You can have any com­bi­na­tion of woods, irons, wedges and put­ters as long as the total num­ber does not exceed four­teen. Many golfers have three woods, a hybrid or two, six to eight irons, two or three wedges, and a put­ter. What clubs are in your bag depends on your cur­rent abil­i­ty and per­son­al pref­er­ences.

The wedges you car­ry in your bag play a vital role in your suc­cess. The short game is arguably the most impor­tant piece in becom­ing a bet­ter golfer. The wedges in your bag can either be the same mod­el as your irons and an exten­sion of the set, or they can be a sep­a­rate set all their own.

Begin­ner golfers many times use wedges that are part of their iron set which is per­fect­ly fine. Almost all sets of irons include a pitch­ing wedge, with most hav­ing a loft angle between 46 and 48 degrees. Most iron sets have options for addi­tion­al wedges, includ­ing a sand wedge. Some begin­ner and high hand­i­cap golfers have the pitch­ing wedge as the only wedge in their bag, but it is high­ly ben­e­fi­cial to have a sand wedge in your bag. Sand wedges typ­i­cal­ly have loft angles between 54 and 56 degrees. A sand wedge also has a wider sole and a high­er bounce angle. The bounce angle lifts the lead­ing edge of the club off the ground. The design of the sand wedge along with prop­er tech­nique, allows you to hit sand shots from green side bunkers close to the hole. A sand wedge also lets you use a full swing to hit shots clos­er to the green instead of using a pitch­ing wedge with a short­er swing.

There is usu­al­ly eight degrees of loft angle between a pitch­ing wedge and a sand wedge. This leaves a sig­nif­i­cant gap between the full swing yardages of each club. Hav­ing to hit a yardage in between those would require using a pitch­ing wedge with less back­swing. Dial­ing in the dif­fer­ent yardages you can hit each of your wedges with vary­ing swing lengths takes con­sid­er­able prac­tice time. Using a gap wedge is an eas­i­er short term way to hit the yardages in between your pitch­ing and sand wedges. A gap, or approach wedge, has a loft angle between 50 and 52 degrees and allows you to uti­lize a full swing to fill the yardage gap between your pitch­ing and sand wedges.

One final wedge that is avail­able for golfers is the lob wedge. A lob wedge has a loft angle of 58 to 60 degrees or more and is designed to get the ball in the air quick­ly allow­ing you to stop it on the green with min­i­mal roll out. A lob wedge is com­mon­ly used by advanced play­ers as it can to dif­fi­cult to hit con­sis­tent­ly. Advanced golfers some­times replace their gap wedge with a lob wedge while oth­ers car­ry four wedges.

The ide­al num­ber of wedges for a high hand­i­cap or begin­ner golfer aspir­ing to play bogey golf is three — a pitch­ing wedge, a gap wedge, and a sand wedge. Mas­ter these three wedges and your short game will dri­ve your suc­cess in becom­ing a bet­ter golfer.

Learn to Chip Around the Green

The short game prob­a­bly has a big­ger gap in abil­i­ty between low and high hand­i­cap golfers than any area in golf. The abil­i­ty to get up and down is crit­i­cal in improv­ing your game. How many times does a high hand­i­cap golfer take three or four shots from beside the green to get the ball in the hole?

The need to be able to shoot a vari­ety of shots is one of the chal­lenges high hand­i­cap golfers face in hav­ing a good short game. The chip, pitch, flop, and sand shots are all part of a well-round­ed short game. In this post, we will be talk­ing about the chip shot.

Around the green, many begin­ner and high hand­i­cap golfers exclu­sive­ly use their pitch­ing or sand wedge, attempt­ing to fly the ball most of the way to the hole with a loft­ed shot. Some­times it is best to play a chip shot. A chip shot con­sists of bump­ing the ball up in the air just enough to get it on the green and rolling. The big ben­e­fit of a chip shot is that it is much eas­i­er to con­trol both the direc­tion and dis­tance when your ball is rolling opposed to fly­ing through the air.

Chip shots can be made with a vari­ety of clubs includ­ing your 7 iron, 8 iron, 9 iron, and wedges. Use your wedges for chip­ping when your ball is clos­er to the hole as they will pro­vide more spin and your ball with roll less. Your less loft­ed clubs are for longer chip shots where you need your ball to roll a greater dis­tance.

The stance and swing for a chip shot dif­fers from a reg­u­lar shot. The ball is played off the inside of your back foot with the han­dle of the club for­ward of the ball. Prob­a­bly the most impor­tant thing to remem­ber about a chip shot is that you strike down on the ball allow­ing the loft of the club to get it in the air. Many ama­teurs make the mis­take of try­ing to scoop the ball into the air.

While the set­up and exe­cu­tion is the same for all of your chip shots regard­less of what club you choose, it is impor­tant to prac­tice chip­ping with all of your wedges all the way down to your 6 or 7 iron. The club you choose will depend on how far away from the hole you are.

In the video below, Peter Finch, shows us how to con­trol our dis­tance when chip­ping.

Spend a seri­ous amount of time chip­ping dur­ing your prac­tice ses­sions. Becom­ing a suc­cess­ful chip­per will most def­i­nite­ly low­er your scores. The short game offers high hand­i­cap golfers the biggest impact on their game with more prac­tice.

How to Hit Out of a Greenside Bunker

Hit­ting their ball into a bunker is the biggest fear of most ama­teurs. This is not the case for pro­fes­sion­al golfers. In fact, pros some­times pur­pose­ly hit their ball into a green­side bunker, pre­fer­ring the lie in the bunker over the lie they would get in the rough. Have you won­dered why bunkers are so feared by ama­teurs but not by pros? There are a few rea­sons, the first being that they are pro­fes­sion­als and have insane skills. The biggest rea­son, how­ev­er, is that they have prac­ticed hit­ting out of golf bunkers a count­less num­ber of times.

When is the last time you saw some­one at your local prac­tice facil­i­ty hit­ting balls out of the sand? The answer is prob­a­bly nev­er. When is the last time you prac­ticed hit­ting out of the sand? Golf bunkers are so fear­ful because, although you may know the prop­er tech­nique for hit­ting out of the sand, you rarely if ever prac­tice hit­ting out of the sand. Incor­po­rate time into your week­ly prac­tice ses­sions to work on hit­ting out of a green­side bunker. Not only will you save strokes on the course by bet­ter get­ting out of the sand, you will be less intim­i­dat­ed on your approach shots know­ing it’s not the end of the world if you end up in the green­side bunker.

The tech­nique for hit­ting out of a green­side bunker is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from your nor­mal swing. Check out this great video from Golf Mag­a­zine Top 100 Teacher Gale Peter­son as she explains the basics.