Simple Short Game
Hitting the ball well but not scoring? Read my short game article and stop frittering away those shots around the green.
Here I’ve described how to play three of the fundamental shot variations from just off the green. Firstly however, how do you know which one to use? A simple way to do this is to imagine that you are throwing the ball, under arm to the flag. How would you instinctively throw it, maybe bowl it along the ground? Your shot of selection should be a chip and run. Throw it straight up into the air with no roll? There’s your lob shot scenario. Or if it’s a combination of throwing the ball in the air with some roll also then the standard chip is your play.
The Standard Chip
Club used: Pitching Wedge
Probably the most common and useful of all the short game shots. If you could only have one variety this would be it, medium trajectory, mid spin. Useful for most situations where a green has been narrowly missed.
Key set up characteristics: (Picture 1)
Aim slightly left with feet alignment
Lean chest towards target to promote 60% weight into left foot
Hands slightly forward with clubface square to target
Initiate the backswing with the upper body and allow the wrists to hinge gradually as the backswing progresses. With a light grip feel the weight of the club head naturally hinge the wrists through momentum on the backswing (Pic 2). The chest will then turn back through the ball on the downswing and finish facing the target (Pic 3). Again the wrists will remain passive and with the weight remaining on the left side throughout the swing, this will help achieve a downward strike onto the ball. The backswing and the through swing will be of an even length and this shot will have an approximate 50/50 ratio of flight to roll.
The Lob Shot
Club Used: Lob Wedge or Sand Wedge
This should not be your ‘stock’ shot and be used all the time due to its unforgiving nature on badly struck shots. It is however a very useful skill to have when requiring a high flighted shot with minimal roll. This shot is actually easier out of semi rough with the longer grass keeping the ball away from the ground and providing space for the club to slide under the ball. Think twice before attempting this shot on a tight lie!
Key set up characteristics: (Picture 4)
Ball slightly forward of centre of stance
Open the clubface very slightly to the target line
Hands centred to body with club shaft pointing at belt buckle
The backswing will be longer on the flop shot with an early and full wrist hinge (Pic 5). On the down swing it should feel like the club head is travelling down under its own momentum and not being pulled down or over controlled. Let the club swish past the hands through impact feeling the club skid under the ball with the club face remaining pointing to the sky (Pic 6). This will help the club avoid digging in and help float the ball high into the air with a soft landing.
The Chip and Run
Club used: 7 Iron
Whereas the lob shot should only be played when necessary, the chip and run should be played whenever possible. It’s a very reliable shot, easy to judge distance and if you don’t quite get it right the outcome should still be reasonable and not scuttling off the other side of the green like some of its higher flighted relatives. If you are close to the green with no hazards in the way, this should be your shot of choice.
Key set up characteristics: (Pic 7)
Grip down the bottom of the grip
Ball centre of stance
Lean chest towards target to get 60% weight onto left foot
Hands slightly forward
The attractiveness of this shot is the swing is small and therefore less to go wrong and even if it’s struck slightly ‘thin’ the ball will still roll out as intended anyway, so is low risk. The action itself is very similar to a putting stroke with minimal wrist hinge and upper body controlled. Turn back with the chest, due to the running nature of this shot the backswing will be short (Pic 8). Turn back through to a mirror image position on the through swing, again with minimal wrist movement. Don’t let the club head over take the hands on the way through (Pic 9). The result will be a short flighted, low running shot with a ratio of about 30/70 flight to roll, depending on green speed and contours.