Avoid the Wrong Shot in Your Short Game

Ben Alexander, PGA

Problem Area: Short Game
Series: Instruction Feature

Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | 3:30 p.m.

As we all know, the short game is where we score or try to score that low number. But for many high handicappers, this is where their problems really start.
Some teachers tell us the short game starts from 100 yards in to the green. I believe that 100 yards in is a full golf shot for most amateurs. Fifty yards or less is the most common trouble distance for amateurs, and I see them consistently choose the wrong shot strategy over and over such as chipping when they should be putting or pitching the ball up in the air rather than chipping the ball low to the ground and rolling it to the hole.
My formula will allow the amateur to score better and never be in doubt with what golf shot to choose from 50 yards in. First off, ask yourself if there anyway you can putt the ball. If so, putt it. If you can't putt it, resort to the chipping game. The key word here is I have to resort to the chipping game because there is NO WAY I can putt this ball. If you have to CHIP, the order of club choice will be 7-iron first, pitching wedge second and sand wedge last. The purpose here is to roll the ball to the hole. Play the ball back of the right foot (for right-handed golfers) and the hands forward, even with the left knee. This will allow the clubface to hood and de-loft, giving the ball 100 percent forward roll to the hole.

The lie of the ball and how much rough we have to contend with determines which of the three clubs we will choose. A 7-iron will roll the ball better than a pitching wedge and a pitching wedge will roll it better than a sand wedge. The sand wedge will be used in heavy-grass lies because of the heavy weight of the club head. If you can't putt it or chip-and-run the ball, your last and final choice will be a pitch shot. A pitch is a regular golf shot, turning the body and cocking the hands but with a shorter adjusted backswing to allow for the shorted distances.
So, follow the formula for better scores in the short game from 50 years in. Have fun and remember to walk fast and swing slow.

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