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.