PGA Tour players If ranked in the top 50 of short game statistics will get the ball up and down 90 to 100 percent of the time. Golfers who are struggling to break 100 are more in the less than 10 percent area or doing even worse. If you up that percentage you are well on your way to breaking 100.
Accelerate Through the Ball With Firm Wrists
If you want to hit solid wedge shots you must basically strip down your motion to its roots and make a connected swing with your arms and body. Most beginning golfer’s try to help the ball in the air by scooping it with their hands and by flipping their wrists. It is true that some professional players use their wrists somewhat when chipping but in general firm wrists help a beginning golfer way more.
This picture shows the hands of a beginning golfer who tries to scoop the ball. His right wrist is flat and his left wrist is cupped. You want to avoid this position at all costs or you are prone to producing those skulled shots that shoot over the green like rockets. Or those chunked shots that hit the ground first and barely move the ball at all. The scooping hand position leads to leaning the shaft away from the target with the hands behind the clubhead at impact.
You want to hit the ball with an accelerating blow making clean contact with the clubface keeping your hands in front of the shaft and clubhead. To achieve that you must do the exact opposite of the above picture. Keep your left , leading wrist firm and flat and your right wrist cupped. Take a look at the following two videos of Tiger Woods explaining how to chip effectively. Notice his tempo and firmness of his strike.
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Develop Touch and Feel for Distance and Roll
As with your full swing shots you want to get basically two variables right, your distance and your direction. The distance part is a bit more tricky in the short game section as you have to control it more with the way you swing the club and only somewhat with your club selection. I think there’s basically only two reliable ways to control the distance for each chip or pitch you are facing.
1) making a longer backswing for more speed and longer shots
2) making a shorter backswing for less speed and shorter shots
The important part is that you don’t disrupt your tempo. You basically want to swing with the same rhythm for shorter and longer shots. Schedule yourself some training sessions to get a feel for how the ball behaves with different chips and pitches you do. As the title of this article suggests your number one goal should be to get the ball staying on the green with your first try most of the time. You will find that with only a little bit of time you can achieve that skill level quite fast. Your next step is of course to let the ball stop closer and closer to the hole to set yourself up for some easier putts. But don’t forget “On the green!” is number one priority!
If you are a beginning golfer you might also want to check out my free beginner’s guide to golf. You can find some more information about the short game there.