Make your short game as consistent as the Tour Pros
Doug Hammer

Scottsdale, AZ (Sports Network) -- PGA Tour pros have every shot in the book. Probably the shot which looks the best is the high flop shot from around the green that lands next to the hole and stops faster than that brand new Porsche they just bought. Tour pros are very good with that shot because they have spent countless hours practicing from all different lies around the green.

If I could give every golfer in the world one piece of advice, it would be to NEVER try that shot! I can?t tell you how many playing lessons I have given, and witnessed hundreds of shots thrown away around the green because a student has chosen to use the sand wedge or 60 degree wedge to fly the ball to the hole and try to make it stop. I promise you that a PGA Tour professional never looks forward to hitting the ball in the air and trying to make the ball stop. It only seems like they do this a lot because that is what the networks show, it is good TV! The shot looks pretty and is really impressive when it works. It is not, however, a very high percentage shot.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is one of the best players on the PGA Tour willing to take a chance with difficult shots.
If you would like to truly play like a tour pro around the green, all you need to do is learn one shot and simply vary your club selection. You want to get the ball on the green and rolling toward the hole as soon as possible. Depending on how much carry time compared to rolling time you need will determine your club selection.

First, we need to determine which club you will need for the shot. Remember, it is important to land the ball on the green as soon as you can and let the ball roll to the hole. If you need to fly the ball and roll the ball an equal distance, the club of choice should be a sand wedge (1:1 air time to roll time ratio). If you need the ball to roll twice as far as it is going to fly, pitching wedge is the club (1:2); 3 times as much roll, 9 iron; 4 times the roll, 8 iron, and on down the list. Another easy way to select your club is a simple formula: subtract the roll part of the ratio from 12. For example, if your fly to roll ratio is 1:4, subtract 4 from 12 and you get 8. Your club should be an 8 iron.

Next, let?s go through the shot. The key to success, as in all aspects of the game, is the proper setup. In order to setup for success, follow this simple process:

  • 1. Use your normal full swing grip, just position your grip down a little or control

  • 2. Narrow your stance so the ball appears to be positioned directly in front of the inside of your back foot

  • 3. Open your stance slightly by stepping your forward foot back slightly about 2 or 3 inches

  • 4. Lean your weight and spine forward of the golf ball toward your target

  • 5. Keep your wrists firm, but arms relaxed and hanging from the shoulders You are now ready to make the swing. The length of backswing is determined by how much air time you need to land the ball on the green. As you take the club back, maintain your spine and weight over your forward foot. There is no weight shift in this shot to encourage you to hit down into the bottom of the ball. Swing down and through the ball making sure your hips and shoulders open to the target while maintaining firm wrists. Hold your finish position and keep the club head below the hands. If the club head comes up in the follow through, you risk hitting a thin or topped shot.

    In a perfect follow through position, the shaft of the club will still be pointing at your target line with the club head pointing at the target. It is important to hold this position until the ball stops rolling for 2 reasons: First, it will help with self-correction, and second, if the ball gets close or happens to find the bottom of the cup, it looks as if you meant to do it. That will make you begin to look like you have the short game of a tour pro!

    Good luck with your short game in the future, and keep shaving those strokes off your score.

    PGA professional, Doug Hammer, is the Director of Instruction for Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ. Doug has been with Troon Golf since 1998, teaching full time since 2001. Doug has studied under some of the game's greatest teachers in Tim Mahoney, Hank Haney, and Mike and Sandy LaBauve. Since 2001, Doug has taught in 10 U.S. states and a short stint in Japan. With this experience, he brings a very patient and consistent approach to the lesson tee, and feels that he can help all levels of players reach their goals.

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