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Shortgame: Stay in Control

April 1, 2011

Have you ever heard this conversation?  “How’d you play today?” “Oh, let me tell you, it’s my shortgame… if I could just chip and putt.”  And then perhaps a series of should have, would have, and could have situation explanations take place?  As indicated by this common response and numerous stat trackers around the world, shortgame can certainly break or make a great round of golf. 

Monday afternoons are my favorite because that’s when my weekly shortgame clinic takes place.  It is my goal to have participants leave with a sound idea on how to defend against two common shots around the green: (1) the fat, dub/flub/chub shot, and (2) the thin, skull, head shake, walk across the green while mumbling “well let’s try this again” shot.

Good news: both of these not-so-hot shots can be defended against by paying attention to our setup.  I am a big fan of doing most of the work before actually swinging.  We must always match our setup for the shot at hand, or else unnecessary compensations and manipulations are likely to occur in the swing.

For the standard chip shot, it is imperative to have the hands and weight forward when striking the ball.  We are in the control of the club when our hands are in front of (or leading) the club head.  However, once the clubhead passes our hands, we lose a lot of this control.  On the same token, it is much easier for the clubhead to continue travelling down towards the ball when our hands are leading the club head.  However, once the clubhead passes our hands, it has a much greater tendency to travel up (leading to thin or skulled shots). 

What this means for set-up:  since accuracy and control are a premium during chip shots, we can pre-set both our hands and weight towards the target.  Perhaps a phrase for this is “weight forward and hands forward.” From here, if the leading relationship between the hands and club head is kept (or even increased), then we achieve our goal of staying in control of the clubhead. 

Try this: Put a tee 6-12 inches in front of the ball.  After striking the ball, keep the clubhead low to the ground, as if it could also hit the tee.  If the club head flies up above your hands, you have lost some control from too much wrist use.  However, if the club is low to the ground (feeling like it could hit the tee), and below your hands, you have kept control of the clubhead.

Try this:  Imagine the bottom of your club is a spray paint can.  After striking the ball, feel like you spray paint a line on the ground with the bottom of your club.  This will keep the club low to the ground and below your hands.  If the clubhead flies up above your hands, you will be spray painting the air ahead of you.  However, if the club is low to the ground and below your hands, you will spray paint the ground, and will have kept control of the clubhead. 

As we stay in control of the clubhead, consistent contact improves.  So does your up and down percentage.

Readers, what are some ideas you have used for improving your shortgame? 

Thank you for stopping by to read this today, it’s wonderful to have you here.  If you find this information to be helpful, please share it with your friends. 

Have a great day!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Patrick Wasserman permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:21 pm

    Hi Sara, great article, sound advice indeed 😀

    One observation I have is that you teach these techniques to “defend” against mishits. I don’t think there’s any need to think about let alone defend against these shots, it only brings in self-doubt and negative thoughts. I suggest only using positive language like learning to hit crisp consistent chip shots, rather than bringing the idea of flubbed and skulled chips to mind.

    Much love,

    • April 2, 2011 5:25 am

      Patrick!!! Great to hear from you! I tend to start the clinics by drastically imitating the “not-so-hot” shots hoping to help relax and get some laughter from the crownd. However, excellent point regarding a positive and confident mindset — especially for a tournament golfer like yourself. I’m glad you recognize that importance, and thank you for sharing that! How is your season going? I look forward to hearing about a great season from the P Tigers!

  2. April 2, 2011 3:44 am

    Hi Sara.
    Nice article about chipping. I especially like the analogy with the spray can.

    As a teaching professional here in the UK , I also come across many pupils who struggle in this department.

    That was what spurned me on to invent a chipping and putting aid called the V-Easy. It simply keeps the wrists out of the shot.

    It is still quite new to the market over here in Europe but I hope you will take a look at my site and let me know what you think as all feedback is good feedback.

    Thanks in advance and I look forward to reading your future tweets.


    Bob McArthur
    PGA Professional

    • April 2, 2011 5:28 am

      Bob, I will certainly check out your site. Thank you for sharing that info and your feedback here, I appreciate it. And a fellow Tweeter? Follow is complete! Have a great day.

  3. May 1, 2011 12:43 pm

    Nice article Sara,

    Another thought I learned from my buddy Andy Gordon, is to think about the shot like “striking a match.” The shaft leans forward with an accelerated strike. This starts the flame as well as a quality shot.

    Thanks again,

    Steven McDaniel

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