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Don't Make Short Shrift of the Short Game
The short game refers to those shots when you are on or close to the green and don’t need a full swing. Those shots include putting (on or off the green), chipping and pitching.
Putting is the part of the game that can defy analysis. There are many different ways to hold the putter and many ways to stroke the putt – all of which are correct if the ball consistently finds the bottom of the cup. Here are some basics:
- When holding the putter, your palms should face each other.
- The ball should be in the center or slightly ahead of center in your stance.
- Your eyes should be over the target line.
- Your putter face should be aimed down the line on which you want to start the putt.
- Keep your feet, hips and shoulders parallel to the path of the putt.
- Keep your body still (no weight transfer) and listen for the ball to drop in the cup (don’t look).
- Your arms and putter should form a “Y” shape. Maintain that shape through the putting stroke.
A chip shot is a low-running shot that can be played with almost any club in your bag, depending on the length of the roll required (less roll with a lofted club like a wedge; more roll with a less lofted club like a 7 iron). Use this shot when you are close to the green and you don’t have an obstacle (like water or sand) to hit over and don’t have to loft the ball.
As you set up the shot, stand with the ball aligned with your back foot and your hand in the center of your body (hands will be ahead of the ball). Your weight should be on your front foot and should stay there through the stroke. Use a narrow stance. Your arms and club should form a “Y” shape, and you should keep the “Y” throughout the stroke. Control this swing with shoulders and arms working like a pendulum (no body or weight transfer). If you do this correctly, your hands will be ahead of the clubhead at impact.
A pitch shot is used to create loft around the greens when you need the ball to travel over bunkers (sand), mounds, tall grass or water. This shot is played with a lofted club like a sand wedge or lob wedge. It is basically a mini version of the full swing. The ball should be in the center of your stance or a little bit forward of center with your hands in the center of your body. Swing your arms while turning the body slightly and setting or hinging the wrists on the backswing. The backswing length and arm speed through impact control the distance the ball flies. Remember to “swish” the grass and let the club lift the ball.