Your Short Game
Since you readers have gotten active sending me ideas for articles, one that has come up several times is the “argument” that is ongoing about the best approach to the short game:
Should you use one club and learn lots of different shots, or should you learn one swing technique and use multiple clubs to get the results you are after?My answer is . . . yes.
Since I like to call upon movies and books for reference, this one is like the movie City Slicker, where Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, is probing the trail boss, Curly, about the true secret of life, and gets the answer, “It’s just one thing”. So Mitch asks, “What is that one thing?” and the old curmudgeon replies, “That’s what you have to figure out for yourself”, which leaves Mitch totally befuddled . . . until the end of the trail ride.
So, the answer to this age old question about the short game is the same – you have to figure out which works best . . . for you. Let me break down the pros and cons of each.
One club, multiple swings. The proponents of this approach claim that if you learn how to do many things with one club, it will make you a better short game practitioner. I really don’t doubt that at all, but the key is “if”. Will you spend the time around the practice green and on the course, learning multiple techniques with that one club so that you can make it fly low and run out when you have lots of green to work with? Hit it higher and softer when you have a bunker to carry or close cut pin? Hit the low spinner, one-hop-and-stop shot when it’s called for?
If you are going to learn all the shots with just one club, you HAVE to invest the time and practice to learn them all and ingrain them so that you can call each of those various swing techniques when needed.
One swing, multiple clubs. This is another tried-and-true approach to building a solid short game. It relies on you learning just one basic chipping and pitching technique and then selecting the club that will give you the desired ball flight and run percentage for that shot you face. Its strength is that you don’t have to spend as much time learning many different techniques, but you do have to invest the time to learn what different clubs do in the relation of ball flight to roll. But overall, this approach to the short game takes less time to achieve a reasonable level of proficiency.
If you learn what your single technique will produce with each of your wedges and short irons, you can dissect any shot into the right club to get the job done.
Multiple swings, multiple clubs. If you want to have a top level short game, you will learn several swing techniques and then learn what each of them produces with various wedges and short irons. You can hit lower shots with controlled spin with your lob wedge, while also knowing how to hit semi-flop shots with your gap wedge. Having this vast array of “arrows in your quiver” will give you plenty of options for any shot you run into on the golf course.
The key is to select a method that matches the amount of time you are willing to invest to learn it to perfection. The short game will present you with a dozen or more opportunities every round to save strokes or attack the golf course.
The better you are within 50 yards, the better golfer you’ll be. Period.
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So not talking about the short game, i was absolutely taken aback at Golf Galaxy this past weekend. I was trying out a new fairway wood and there was a guy in front of me in line that was all upset because he was hitting a new 5wood farther than his current 3 wood. Looking to close a gap between 3 and hybrid. I said "wow that's great. I'd ditch the 3 and just get the 5. Then you have all the distances down to your hybrid with a little choke up and still have room for another wedge". He looks at me and says, "i hate choking up it throws off my whole swing." I couldn't imagine only being able to hit one shot and one distance with each club. You've got to be able to hit at LEAST 3 shots with each club (low middle high) in order to score. Same goes for the short game.
Great topic WG. I could prolly talk short gaming all day. Some ppl say "keep it simple-one club" other ppl say "keep it simple-one swing" Personally I think each approach has value and I think you explore both and try to master them. In my seven years of golf I've learned that there's so many nuances to the short shots, versatility can only help you. Chipping uphill to a back pin? Good luck with that lob wedge. But sometimes you short side yourself and you will need that LW. (that is if you have the cojones to try and hit it tight.)
But it is also about sole design which I'm sure WG will back me up on. If you are using only an LW or only a SW let's face it, you're not taking full advantage of the bounces in your bag.
When I received my EIDOLON wedges a couple of years ago, I also received a book about Terry's SCOR Method. Having multiple swings with multiple clubs helped with multiple situations with multiple lies. Just as what Terry had stated, you do have to invest some time and as usual...PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
The biggest thing I have noticed in my short game ISSUES lately is all about lie.
We have some very different grass and surfaces here, and right now, in our WINTER (not much of one) the ground and grass is so hard to judge.
Crab grass grabs your club hard, where others have no roots and flies. The ground is rock hard, but some smashy sand mud just eats your club.
I'm having to pick my shot to match the lie, and that requires different shots with different clubs. In summer I played 1 swing multiple clubs and I was pretty successful.
I wish I had time to Practice the multiple multiple, because right now, it is SEVERELY costing me.
I have added more flexibility to my game now though, still new, I'm learning and adding more shots all the time. I can't wait till i can play those 3 shots with each club Chris, another reason i love golf, you will never master it. Always something to work on.
I have to ride a cart due to health issues, so for pure logistics it's one club, multiple swings for me. But it is far from ideal.
Multiple/multiple is definitely the best way.
For the rest of us... it's course mgmt... keep the ball in the front of the green on your misses.
I teach the multiple-multiple, but I use one club- multiple swings. I learned golf as a caddy at the Country Club 3 houses down from where we lived.There was no fence. It was the 2nd green and because of a hill you couldn't see the hole The only problem was the night waterman (no automatic heads in those days. When he came around you had to vacate quickly, If you left any clubs,they were gone. So therefore I spent many hours using a SW only. Balls were no problem. I would would find some each day on my 2 hole walk home.
Ultimately you must learn multiple shots with all your clubs to master the game but very few of us have the time to master the game. For beginners most should master using a single mid iron and get comfortable with short pitches up to a full swing. If I am coaching rank beginners I make them play all shots except puts with a 5 or 7 iron for a whole round and it is also good practice for more accomplished gofers now and then. You will be suprised at how many holes you can par with a 7 iron.
When I started playing golf 1967 there were no multiple wedges just 9 iron and SW. This year to walk more rounds of golf I went to Sunday bag and 8 clubs using only 9, GW & SW for my pitch and chip shots. When I need a bounce LW I open SW; and with tight lie open my GW which is low bounce. I shoot the same scores and walk for better health.
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