Short Game Options & Preference
I find the short game to be fascinating for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the broad variety of ways you can approach it as a golfer. There’s pretty much only one way to hit good drives, solid irons shots, etc., but if you play enough golf, with enough different players, you can see a number of ways to approach the short game and scoring that work.
Today’s topic is in response to an email from Hugo, who wrote:
With technique and equipment, I’ve seen a trend on tour golfers on concentrating on their short game more and more, replacing long clubs with wedges. As I’m not a long hitter, I’ve tried to do the same in order to save some long pars (approach/put situations). I see several golfers chipping or flopping from just outside the green, however instead of using a wedge, I find it easier to bump and roll the ball (usually with a 9 iron),and I’m becoming pretty accurate with it. What’s your preference on the “just outside the green” game?Well, Hugo, my preference is to treat each shot as a stand-alone, one of a kind opportunity to score. I know players who turn to the flop shot most often, or bump and roll with an 8- or 9-iron every chance they get. But in my observation, those golfers who are most consistent in greenside scoring are the ones with the broadest and most versatile arsenal of shots they KNOW how to execute.
A round of golf will present you with a wide variety of challenges around the greens, and limiting yourself to just one type of scoring shot greatly limits your ability to adapt to what is before you. I’ve written before that you need to know at least three basic short game shots – the simple chip, the basic pitch and the soft lob. Then you can select different clubs with each to give yourself a virtual arsenal of scoring options when you miss a green.
I recommend that you learn the simple chip with a lower-lofted iron, 7 or 8. That club will give you about 2/3 roll to 1/3 carry on a normal speed green. On faster greens you can hit that shot with a pitch or gap wedge and keep that ratio. On slower greens or where you have a very large piece of green to cover, you can hit the same shot with a 5- or 6-iron to lengthen the rollout distance.
The basic pitch is most often hit with a pitching wedge or gap wedge, and will change the carry/roll ratio to more like 1/1 or 2/1. You can alter that by hitting the basic pitch with a lower lofted short iron or a higher lofted wedge to alter that to fit the situation.
And finally, the soft lob shot is usually executed with your sand or lob wedge, and is designed to give you about ¾ carry and ¼ roll, more or less depending on the green and its slope and speed.
There are many good places to find solid techniques by which to execute these basic shots, including some of my past articles here. Spend some time this offseason practicing them at home with “Almost Golf Balls” or into a hitting net, and your short game will come alive quicker this spring than in the past.
Thanks for sending in your email, and congratulations on winning a FREE EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge. I encourage all of you to do the same. I have to give one away every Tuesday, so why not give yourself a chance?
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It does depend on the situation, even with putter just off the green.
Terry, I agree with you - the short game is definitely the best way to save strokes in golf. I just had surgery 1 week ago and my surgeon told me not to swing a golf club for 4 weeks. During that time, I am going to putt and chip. While I consider myself a pretty good short game player, you can always be better. I believe this will propel me to a different level this year.
BTW - I have played 27 holes since receiving my Eidolon wedges for Christmas - 2 chip in's and 4 others that lipped out!!!
Hi Terry, thanks for selecting my question. 1 year after back surgery, I'm still gaining turn and speed in my swing, I usually find my self just short of the green on longer wholes, and as you said, it's an "every shot is unique" kind of deal, I feel comfortable using a mid lofted club when I have a bit of rough to go over and roll the ball, I try to avoid the flop if I can. For 50 yds in, I use my gap, don't now why but I feel better using it than my 56 sand.
I've seen some tour guys demostrate the use of a wood on "just outside the green" shots, but I've never seen them do it in a tournament.
I love the bump and run 8, the soft lob 60* and the knockdown SW. It's part of the fun to play shots whether they come off or not, meh. The difference between my worst score and best score is how those come off. That's what makes the game fun!
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