Developing a solid short game is a must if you want to shave strokes off your golf handi-cap. As we’ve often said in our golf tips newsletter, a good pitch or chip from 100 yards and in turns three (or more) strokes into two. These saved strokes add up over the course of a round and can dramatically lower your golf handicap. But most short game shots are “in between” shots. That’s a problem. It’s much easier to make a full swing shot than a shot where you’re in between clubs.
Distance Control Is Key
The key to making these short-game shots is distance control with your wedges. Some players like to control distance by “feel.” But that can be difficult to do. An easier ap-proach is to control distance mechanically. You can do that by controlling the length of your swing. It’s the length of the swing with consistent tempo that creates the desired shot distance. If you can master this method, you’ll be able to dial in your shots from 100 yards and in, saving strokes.
Many players who have trouble controlling distance have two major flaws. They have a backswing and downswing that are not the same length and a swing tempo that varies significantly from shot to shot. Both are killers when it comes to distance control. Both are also the result of trying to hit shots with “feel” only. This method might work for Tour players, but its extremely difficult for weekend golfers to master. And judging from what we see in our golf lessons, few do. What’s needed is method that eliminates feel from the shot.
A Proven Method
A proven method for controlling distance involves three components: 1) where to place your hands on the club, 2) the width of your stance, and 3) the length of the swing. Each component contributes equally to controlling distance. Each changes based on the length of the shot. The method works well for many golfers because it is simple and easy to execute.
For example, if you were half the normal distance of a full wedge shot, your stance would be wide but not as wide as for a full wedge shot, and you’d choke down a couple of inches on the club. Your swing length would be shoulder height on both the backswing and downswing. These components would change if you had a shot that was 20 percent of a full-wedge shot. Your hands would be placed almost at the bottom of the grip, your stance would be narrow, and your swing would be short, both in the backswing and the downswing.
Keys To Method
One key to executing this method is that you must maintain a consistent tempo through-out your swing. Golfers at our golf lessons that often have a hard time achieving a consis-tent swing tempo. One way to overcome this is with a metronome. A metronome is a de-vice used in music to mark time. It’s a great way to train yourself to swing with a repeat-able tempo. When training yourself to do this, make a concerted effort to rotate your body all the way through to the finish while letting your arms and hands follow. This creates a smoother “connected” motion.
A second key to this method is to determine how far you hit the ball with each setup and swing length. That’s easily accomplished by going to the range or an empty field where you have plenty of room and hitting balls using the different setups and swing lengths. Once you learned the distance for each setup and swing length, you’re ready to dial in short game shots from any distance.
Developing a good short game is among the fastest way to chop strokes off your golf handicap. A good short game saves tons of strokes. One way to hit accurate short game shots is through feel. But this method is hard to master for weekend golfers. A simpler and better approach is the method described above. It enables you to control distance me-chanically and eliminates inconsistency. Once you’ve achieved these goals, your short game will take off.