Final Exam Season: Advanced Elements of the Short Game

Advanced Elements of the Short Game has been one of the most technical classes we've taken this semester.
Advanced Elements of the Short Game has been one of the most technical classes we’ve taken this semester.

It’s finals week at the Golf Academy, so we’re reviewing all the things we’ve learned throughout the semester. The two most technical classes we’ve taken have been Advanced Elements of the Short Game with PGA Professional Jay Friedman and Golf Club Assembly & Repair with PGA Professional Gary Balliet. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned in Advanced Elements of the Short Game:

* Scoring statistics indicate that most players will two-putt from ten feet away.

* 95% of lag putting occurs between 21-50 feet; Outside of 50 feet, most golfers are likely to three-putt.

* The most effective way to understand where a player’s weaknesses are is by tracking and recording the results of the shots made by that player.

* For many short game shots, the path of the club should be on a line from inside the target line, to down the target line, to inside the target line.

* The better the club starts out on and adheres to the correct arc around the player’s body, the less compensating motions needed to produce a correct impact position.

* In a player’s posture, the secondary spine angle is the tilt of the player’s spine away from the target.

* Balance throughout the entire swing gives players a much better chance at proper club and swing mechanics. The short game requires less of a weight movement than is used in the full swing. Extra power is not required in the short game, so the focus of the player can be more on balance.

Lower-lofted
Lower-lofted shots will have a greater degree of consistency than lofted shots from near the green.

* Lower-lofted shots will have a greater degree of consistency than lofted shots that are executed from near the green. The lower the trajectory of any chip shot, the straighter and more consistent the result. By using the lowest trajectory and spin rate that can be achieved for a given chip shot, a player will most likely obtain the most consistent results. The chipping technique from a good lie resembles a putting stroke. The first and best option from this lie is to use a putter or a putting-lie stroke with a less-lofted club.

* The most important variable when choosing the correct chip shot to hit is the lie of the ball. The basic chip shot is a one-lever swing.

* Moving the ball back in a player’s stance de-lofts the clubface and promotes a steeper angle of approach.

* A hybrid club is designed such that the shape and mass of the club will allow it to slide through the grass without hanging up.

* Using the same putting stroke with different-lofted clubs produces a different distance with each club relative to its loft.

* A chip shot is defined as a shot that rolls farther than it flies.

* Most pitch shots occur between 10-30 yards from the edge of the green or closer.

* Most pitch shots are two-lever swings that include a wrist hinge.

* A 52-degree wedge will likely fly lower and roll farther than a 56-degree wedge when using the same swing and technique.

* Learning to carry the ball the correct distance is the first step in developing the type of consistency that the player needs to become proficient in pitching. Working on tempo and controlling the length of the backswing will allow the player to develop a consistent distance from the different types of lies that he will face.

The hinge and hold
Phil Mickelson is a proponent of the hinge and hold technique pitch shots.

* The hinge and hold pitch shot technique requires the hands and wrists to hinge on the backswing while making sure the club face stays square through impact.

* Pinch shots produce more spin than the standard pitch shot.

* Cut (pitch) shots require a player to have a slightly open stance in order to allow the club to travel from outside to inside.

* The ball makes no distinction of the club being used but reacts to the dynamic loft present at impact and the clubhead speed.

* A good technique to apply to pitch shots from loose, sandy soil or sitting down in the rough is an open-faced bunker shot technique.

* A club’s effective loft changes based on the slope of the lie.

* Uphill lies in bunkers will send the ball higher and softer. Downhill lies in bunkers will send the ball lower with more roll-out. With a buried lie in the bunker, a steeper angle of approach is required. A lower trajectory shot out of a bunker will produce more roll after it lands.

* The less bounce a sand wedge has, the more it will dig into the turf or the bunker.

* The ball will travel primarily in whatever direction the face of the clubface is pointed.

* Maintaining body weight on the lead foot side promotes a steeper angle of approach.

* More exact timing is required when executing a flop shot than when executing a lob shot. The flop and the lob should only be used if not other option exists.

Luke Guthrie keeps the clubface
Luke Guthrie keeps the clubface open at impact while demonstrating the flop shot.

* By increasing the loft of an already lofted club, a player can use a higher clubhead speed and still get the short distance the shot calls for with considerably less roll-out. The more lofted the wedge, the more aggressive the swing that can be made without fear that the ball will fly too far with appropriate ball contact.

* The flop shot motion resembles a V-shaped swing and requires a greater use of the arms, wrists, and hands and less use of the body than does the lob shot. The lob shot motion resembles a U-shaped swing and requires more of a body motion. The lob and the flop require the clubface to remain open at impact. A player should open his stance in order to hit these shots on target.

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