Scoring Shot #3 - The Soft Lob
Today we’re talking about the third of the basic scoring shots every golf needs in their arsenal, so that you can deal with whatever you find around the greens. Two weeks ago, we covered the basic Chip Shot, and last Friday the Basic Pitch. Today, let’s build on that to learn how to hit the Soft Lob shot.
This is a powerful weapon to have at your call, but I see it overused much too often by golfers that get giddy with excitement at having learned it. As I’ve said, I’m a believer in matching the shot you select with the challenge you face, and choosing the highest-odds option. The soft lob is great when you have a close-cut pin, or have to get over a bunker or other obstacle, but it is not your best choice when you have plenty of green to work with. And unlike the Chip and Pitch, the soft lob is not going to be hit with a variety of clubs – this one calls for the highest lofted wedge you carry, preferably one with at least 57-58 degrees of loft.
The set up is almost identical to that for the Pitch Shot with the major difference being that the ball is going to be placed a little further forward in your stance. With the Pitch, we talked about the ball being in the center, pretty much in line with your sternum, so that there is a slight rearward angle of the shaft from the hands back to the ball at address. For this Lob shot, you want the ball far enough forward so that the left arm and shaft make a straight line, when you look down, That should put the ball about even with your left armpit for most golfers. There is no hard and fast rule, however, so experiment with this a little.
The soft Lob Shot requires a v-e-r-y s-o-f-t grip on the club. This is a touch shot and the right hand, particularly, has to have a soft touch. And the clubface should be laid open to some degree to add loft and increase the effect of the wedge’s bounce. Do this by gripping the club in the open position, not by rotating your grip backwards.
The takeaway is characterized by a slightly quicker setting of the hands, while the shoulders make a full turn, so that the clubhead comes away from the ball on a steeper incline. Practice this in slow motion, and actually look back to see the path of the clubhead. It should go back and up, so that it does not get trapped “behind you”. The shaft should be nearly vertical to the ground. The killer of any pitch shots, but particularly this one, is to get the club back too flat.
From a half backswing position, where the hands are about chest high, the forward swing is driven by a rotation of the upper torso, with the hands holding their set position as long as possible before impact. The pace is almost lazy, so that you feel like gravity is dropping your arms and hands through impact. As the hands rotate through impact, they should pass exactly through their address position, and there is not as much unhinging of the wrists as there is turning of the hands. The upper body has to continue its release through impact, which will cause the arms, hands and club to finish in front of your sternum, well left of your target line. The clubhead does not extend down the line after impact, but slices under the ball as it heads left, following the body rotation.
It’s time to take your wedge and begin to make practice swings in the yard to get the feel for this. You should feel the bottom of the wedge “slap” the turf and glide along it, rather than dig a divot. And a key to hitting this shot is to focus on the back edge of the ball to help your eye/hand coordination make consistent impact where the club glides under the ball, rather than pinch it into the turf like any other crisp iron shot.
The common problems with the Soft Lob shot is that the golfer allows the clubhead to pass his/her hands, and the ball is caught right in the equator causing it to sail over the green. Like every other shot in golf, the hands have to keep moving through impact, led by the arms and upper body core rotation.
Also, realize that this is a high-risk shot, and requires practice to perfect it. But if you spend a little time, you’ll find it’s not that hard to learn and it will save you strokes when no other shot will do.
If you like this idea of articles in series, why don’t you guys send me some ideas for the next one. I’ll see you on Tuesday with another wedge winner and question answered.
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Agreed with everything above. Another note on the soft lob: there isn't as much spin here as the usual pitch. The nature of the short just don't produce the backspin. This is a smooth, soft, touch shot that stops the ball with trajectory. I usually only have to hit a lob maybe 2-3 times around, but it's indispensable then.
I like your ability to explain the mechanics of shots and how they should feel. To me, this is invaluable in helping my game. Along this same thought process, could you move into the bunker and do a similar series on scoring shots from the sand. As we all know, sand saves are critical to consistency and one of the biggest cheers you hear on tour is when a pro holes one. Sand shots are so varied, I think it would be good to hear your thoughts on setup, position and feel when it comes to the beach. Thanks.
This is a great shot to have for all the reasons stated. One thing not mentioned is the lie. The tighter the lie, the harder this shot is to execute. On the other hand fluffy lies carry the the risk of whiffing right under the ball and going nowhere. Excessive use can cause permanent damage to your score, so always flop responsibly.
On opening the club face- I was reading an older issue of one of the Golf mags, and it had some tips from Phil. His suggestion is to initially setup square to the target. Then to open the club face, and regrip so that you have your correct grip at the club face angle deisred. The final step is to open your stance so the club face is again square to the target.
probably my favorite shot and by far my best shot
Bryan K says:
I'm not a fan of the soft lob because I tend to fluff them a lot. The only place I really execute an open club-face shot consistently well is from a soft lie in a bunker where I can kick up a lot of sand. I tend to practice these shots a lot, too.
Steve Wozeniak PGA says:
The picture in this article is of a complete block, notice the left arm and hand above the right with the club completely out of center! There is NO TURNING of the hands with great players in this shot that is a flip BUT this could be a FEEL.....The club ALWAYS extends DOWN the line of flight if a player is set up left it extends down THAT line simple physics and fundamentals!!!!
You are correct about the body.....
Steve Wozeniak PGA www.stevewozeniak.com
Is the soft lob a flop? A true flop would encorpoarate faster swing speed and a wide open face with closer feet, right? The soft lob is the one I think of which is the high-percentage over the bunker shot with out worrying about high spin or intense stoppage. It works best when there is something conducive (the right lie, back to front green slope, soft green). It's best to lob when you don't have to do too much. It might sound funny, but focussing on actually hitting the ball helps this shot. If you're all worked up about getting under it or hitting a real specific target spot, it can backfire - as people are saying. Openning up your stance can open up a peek at the pin too early. If you hit the ball squarely it will pop up and land softly. If it runs 6ft past that's fine - watch the roll to read the return putt.
I SEMI perfected this shot over my past 4-5 rounds and have been able to use it very effectively. I feel that you can use it from almost anywhere even if you have green to work with i mean its up to your confidence in the shot. I stand open and open face 60* wedge get it up high and it usually hits bounces once or twice and stops not a spinner stops softly from the high trajectory. I love the "slap the ground technique" one of the guys i work with does this very well and he helped me use the shot more consistenly were in the past i knew i could make it work but would have that fear of hitting to high on the ball and flying 20 yds+ over the green where i could pitch it and atleast get it on the putting surface. Great shot if your got the balls for it!
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