Using an open clubface around the green is a critical ingredient to a good short game. However, many golfers don't trust this alignment and just avoid it all together. Others don't understand how to execute a solid and controlled shot with this clubface position. Here are a few important points you want to consider when trying to hit soft, lofty chips and pitches.
Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!
- How to open the clubface: twist the handle of the club to the right (for righties) and THEN take your grip position so the club is set open inside of your hands (don't take your grip and then twist your wrists it won't work as well)
- How much: depending on how high/soft you want the shot to come out. You will just have to experiment with this, but be careful – don't open the clubface up too much if your ball is sitting high up in the rough it can go right underneath.
- Match your body: (see closeup picture of setup) If you open the clubface it will want to point right, but we need to keep it aiming towards the target so therefore you must open your stance (turn your body so your foot-line, hips and shoulders are pointing left of your target) this will help the shot come off straighter instead of right. The more you open your clubface, the more you should open your stance.
- Swing shallow or steep (use a wrist hinge or keep your wrists straight) but make sure you swing along your body line which should be pointed open (left). This will ultimately produce an out to in path in relation to the target line, but will allow the club to work down on the ball with a good solid angle of attack. Common pitfall — golfers swing back on the target line which ends up being too "inside" and when they come back to strike the ball they blade it or shank it right with the open face.
- Body turn: an open clubface softens the shot so you still need to turn your body though to provide a little momentum without using any scooping motion
- Swing size: remember that using an open face adds loft which can detract overall distance — the ball is busy going up and not going out/forward so you need to take a bigger backswing to get the ball to carry to your intended landing spot.
- PALM UP in the finish: (see picture of follow through position) Hold your finish and take a look at your right hand. Your palm and the clubface should be facing up to the sky as if you just finished a soft underhand toss of a ball. If it's pointing down or left you have just thrown away effectively using the open face position because you did not hold it long enough through impact. The correct follow through motion is called "blocking the finish" and it's an important part of executing shots with an open face.
- DON'T try to use an open face position on firm lies like hardpan or really firm bunkers or really tight/dry fairways — the club will bounce and you can blade the shot easily.
You can talk about that massive drive, or the punch shot you hit from under the trees all you want. There is no shot that will get more ooo's and ahhh's than a well played flop shot.
Matt McGee says:
I have a hard time with sand shots that require an open face. Hard to judge, and hard to have confidence enough in them to make a full swing.