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Here's Your [Abraham] Ancer to a Better Short Game

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Abraham Ancer used a very common strategy for success to earn his first PGA Tour title. Hit as many greens in regulation as you can and when you miss, find a way to make par. His scrambling statistics were impressive at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational completing six of seven sand saves and 18-of 21 overall scrambling opportunities. Ancer is known for being a stellar ball striker on tour and harnessing that skill around the green is something we can all learn a lesson from.
You’ve heard it a thousand times, the quickest way to lower your scoring average is to reduce the number of shots you take from inside fifty yards to the hole. This includes putts as well, but today’s lesson will center around how to make sure you strike your short shots solidly.
All-great short-game players make consistent contact with the ball. The next time you take the opportunity to practice your short game, try this drill. Take your favorite chipping club and an alignment stick and head over to the practice area.  Make sure the stick doesn’t have a rubber cap on the end. You’re looking for the flat edge of the stick. Many times, one end may have a pointed end, we want the opposite side.
Lay the stick on the ground in a level area with the flat side at the back end of the stick. Point it toward a target and then grab your club. Take your address position so that the back end of the stick is in the middle of your stance. Swing the club back as if you were making a short chipping motion. The goal is hit the end of the stick and push it forward on the ground.
You’ll quickly find this isn’t easy. The club might slide under the stick and pop it up. Or we might miss the back end and hit the top of the stick swinging forward. Keep practicing with short swings. The goal isn’t to hit the stick far, you just want to squarely strike the back end and slide it forward along the ground.
If you aren’t contacting the stick squarely, it’s time to work on your swinging motion. Step away from the stick and take your normal stance. Notice the “V” formed by both arms. Swing those arms together keeping the “V” intact. Keep swinging those arms back and forth. Your wrists should feel solid, and your shoulders will be turning. A wear patch will start to form at the bottom of your swing. That consistent low point is the key.
Now take your stance alongside the stick again. Swing your “V” and notice the change in your success rate for hitting the stick. Once you get good at hitting the alignment rod, drop a couple of golf balls down and try your new short game swing. Keep alternating between the stick and a golf ball. As your confidence improves in the drill, your game will improve on the course.
Now you have the Ancer to a better short game, better contact!

Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.

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