See All Your Scoring Options
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Watching golf on TV golf the past couple of weeks, I always find it amazing to watch the pros selection of shots around the greens. Most amateurs I play with don't use nearly as much imagination in their scoring shots, and their scores suffer because of it.
Too many recreational golfers seem to have their "go to" club for recovery shots when they miss the green. For many, it's the sand or lob wedge, while others might always go to their pitching wedge or even 8- or 9-irons because they are "afraid" of their wedges. But I suggest that your scores will benefit if you let your imagination run a little wild and open your mind to all the shot options available to you.
For example, if you are not far off the fringe and have some green to work with, a highly-probably shot is what I call the "putt-chip". Very simply, you just take a middle iron – a hybrid also works well for this shot — play the ball back a little in your stance, and use your normal putting grip and stroke. Solid contact is all but assured, and your touch will be similar to that with your putter. The ball gets airborne just enough to carry to the green surface, but has minimal spin so it then rolls out to the hole. Tips for executing the "putt-chip" are to grip the club lightly, as it is an overall lighter club than your putter, and to slightly forward press so that you make clean contact. Try this shot and I think you will find it becoming another of your "go to" shots around the greens.
I often find that the gap or pitching wedge is a better option for a straightforward pitch than either the sand or lob wedges. Situations that scream out for that selection and shot is when you have quite a bit of green to cover after the ball flight, or if you are chipping uphill and want the ball to release some after it lands. To get the lower ball flight and reduced spin you are seeking on this shot, simple play the ball slightly to the rear of your stance, and make your takeaway lower, slower and longer than normal, and your forward swing the same way – low, slow and long. That produces less clubhead speed and reduced spin, along with a lower ball flight. Keep your hands quiet and take the club away with a one-piece rotation of your body core, with an extended arm swing. Don't set the wrists as much as you would for a bunker shot or normal pitch.
And I'll give you a third shot that can be your only hope sometimes.
You find yourself short-sided, with a closely mown upslope to a near-cut pin position. A lob shot is low percentage, so trying to run it up the slope is your only hope of getting it close enough to have a chance at par, but you don't want to get "cute" with a wedge and leave yourself this shot again.
The answer here is to "putt-chip" it with a fairway wood or hybrid. Just take your putting stance and grip on the club, which will tilt the longer club up on its toe a bit – that's OK. Grip it lightly as these clubs are considerably lighter than your putter and that improves feel. Then just "putt" the ball up the hill and onto the green. And on this shot, make sure the ball gets to the hole. When you have a tough recovery shot, your goal should be to give yourself a chance for an up and down, but make sure you don't leave yourself the tough chip all over again by being timid or cute.
So, I hope these three shots can find their way into your scoring arsenal. They only take a little practice and you'll be able to call them up when you need them. When you are out for an afternoon "quick nine" drop some balls around the greens and practice these a bit – they'll pay off quickly.
When you miss a green, exercise a little creativity and see all your options. Quite often the best shot isn't the one that's the most obvious.
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I LOVE the putt-chip with the hybrid, I use it when I have either 3-4 feet total of rough and/or fringe. One thing is that the ground has to be flat...if there's a weird swell then it's all out the window.
I do use my lob wedge almost exclusively around the green, but that's because I practice all the shots with my lob wedge. I have a sense of feel of how far it will go if I close the club face and how much it will check up, etc. That's pretty much because that's the club I have sitting in my den that I use to practice hitting plastic golf balls!
Great tip Terry on choking way down on the irons/hybrids so that you set the club more upright onto the toe. This definitely lessens the chance of the club bottoming out and turning over in your hands. Good reminder, might work on that today some.
I keep trying to work a hybrid putt-chip into my game but I struggle with distance control - looks beautiful when it works but ugly when it doesn't. If I have room to land the ball I'm better off chipping. But if no room I'll putt-chip.
Agree with DaRupp though, something about the speed of the ball off the face of the hybrid makes it more difficult to control downhill versus putting downhill.
LEE says an ametur should never use a wedge unless you have to chip over somthing! Golf Channel. i just purchased a 60 and he scared the life out of me.
Matt McGee says:
I have, on occasion, putt-chipped with a 3-wood from 25 yards out, because of trees & the like. It's a fairly controllable shot.
C-4, don't be scared by the 60*. It's my favorite club in my bag because I can do almost anything with it up to about 80 yards. But as I said before, that's only because I practice "almost anything". I don't pull it out of the bag raw around the green, I've practiced that shot previously.
joe jones says:
With all of the rain at Merion it is going to be interesting to see how the pro's handle the long sticky rough. I was watching some of the practice sessions and I saw Garrigus dropping balls straight down alongside the chipping green and trying different clubs and shot shapes to see what works best, I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of frustration over these shots.
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