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Help for Your Short Game
The fundamentals of the short game are of paramount importance in the golf game. This is due to the fact that we play at least half of our round within one hundred yards of the hole. If you were to break down an even par, 72 round of golf, you would find that with the allowance of two putts per green, for a total of 36 putts per round, it is easy to see where half the round goes. Therefore, mastering the short game will save you numerous strokes per round.

The first shot that you will encounter is the pitch shot. This shot is played whenever you swing your sand wedge or pitching wedge between 30 and 80 percent of your full swing. The tendency is to decelerate when you are swinging through the ball and duff it. Or you swing too short, rapidly accelerate (trying not to decelerate the club) and knife it right across the green like a side-splitter missile. I suggest that when playing these types of shots, you swing the club at the same speed back and through. This pendulum style swing will provide you with consistency and distance control. Try swinging back and through so your hands only swing as high as your hips.

Or, swing your hands to shoulder height and through the same distance. This type of concentration will give you a reference for repeating a certain distance shot. These swings will be an accurate gauge only if your follow through is smooth and rhythmical.

The next shot is the chip shot. I suggest using three different clubs for this variety of shots. The SW or PW, 9, and 7 irons will be your tools for better chipping results. I basically use a putting stroke with each club, allowing the club face to meet the ball on a slightly descending pathway. This insures that you always catch the ball before you hit the ground. Experiment with these clubs by standing at the edge of a green, take each club and swing them with a putter stroke the same distance back and through, just like the pendulum. Watch what happens to the ball. The distances that the balls carry in the air will vary, as well as the distance that they will roll on the green. All you have to do is get comfortable with using each club and be able to visualize what the ball does when you hit it.

The next step is to take this to the golf course. When you are confronted with a particular shot, visualize the shots you practiced and match the shot that faces you with one you already know. If it is not an exact match, always select the club that will get the ball rolling on the green for the longest time.


"Caddie, why do you keep looking at your watch?"

"It ain't a watch, sir, it's a compass."

Good luck in golf and life, and remember...

If you miss the ball, miss a short putt or have a hole in one -- they are all just one shot played in this passage of life that we call golf.

 ©1998 Craig Hocknull
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