By Doug Hammer, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
Be A Shot Maker
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I am excited to see Tiger Woods somewhat back to form this year. Yes, I am proud to say, I am a Tiger fan. Yes, he has some personal issues that I don't agree with, but that does not take away the fact that he is an incredible golfer and has done more for the sport of golf than any other athlete has done for his or her sport in history. I have to be a Tiger fan as I may owe part of my career to him!

But, more importantly, I enjoy watching Tiger play the game because he is a shot maker. Tiger's incredible shots are played over and over again on golf highlight shows, and will be for years to come. He never ceases to amaze when he is on his game. Three wins this year puts him on top of the FedEx cup heading into the playoffs. He is just a little bit of trust away from being the Tiger of old.

Granted, Tiger's golf swing is very different and looks a bit odd in places but, from my perspective, he is on the right track. The one thing that Tiger doesn't need to revamp is his creativity around the green. This is where he excels. The one shot that stands out from this year is Tiger's pitch in at the Memorial. I am sure you all remember it ? Tiger is behind the green staring at a difficult lie to a downhill green with water beyond. ?Jail,? according to Mr. Johnny Miller. So what does Tiger do? Of course, he holes it, just like he did to Chris DiMarco in the Masters on the 16th hole.

So, how can you be a shot maker around the green just like Tiger? Good news, you don't have to possess Tiger's extraordinary talent and strength. You will get close with the correct lofted wedge and a bit of Tiger's work ethic (no, you don't need to spend 4 hours a day around the green, although it would help!).

Being a shot maker is simply controlling your trajectory around the green. Each and every golfer should have a minimum of 3 wedges, and I really feel strongly that 4 is a very good idea. But, at minimum, a Pitching wedge, Sand Wedge, and Lob wedge (60 degrees or higher) are a bare necessity. Next, you must think out of the box. Setting up the same way to hit every shot around the green is not a good idea. If you want to hit different trajectories, you must change your set-up. Here are some set-up keys for hitting high and low shots:

Low running shots around the green:
  • Narrow stance with ball positioned off of back foot
  • Lean handle of club toward the target
  • Lean upper body toward target and feel weight move to forward leg
  • Open stance slightly by moving lead foot away from golf ball

High Soft shots around the green:
  • Wider stance with ball in middle of stance
  • Keep handle of club center to maintain loft of the club
  • Open clubface based on lie (heavy rough = open, tight lie = square)
  • Keep upper body centered and weight evenly distributed
  • Open stance slightly by moving lead foot away from golf ball

Follow these set-up keys to get in the correct ready position to hit the shot you are visualizing in your mind. Now, for execution of the shot. The most common mistake I see amateurs make around the green is trying to help the ball get airborne. This can result in a change of the loft of the club, thin or fat shots, or the dreaded topped shot.

In order to produce the correct contact around the green and become a shot maker, try this drill:
  • Place the head cover from your driver approximately two feet behind the golf ball and directly on the target line
  • Address the golf ball and set up according to the height of the shot
  • The club should swing above the headcover on takeaway, resulting in a slightly steeper takeaway
  • This promotes a downward strike on the ball, necessary for solid contact
  • You should miss the headcover on the downswing as well creating a downward strike
  • Finish with the club low to the ground and the face looking to the sky to maintain the loft of the club.
  • Your shot should come out high and soft and maybe even with a little bit of backspin!

Work on this the next time you are on the practice range and I promise you will add some new shots to your arsenal and quickly become the shot maker you want to be around the green!

Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club
p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161
10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf
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