You have a "go to" shot for this?
A "Go To" Club or a "Go To" Technique?
As you might imagine, we get hundreds of questions, both here and at EIDOLON, about what should be your “go to” club for shots around the greens. There are many theories and practices on this subject, with the two extremes being:
1. Use one club for all your scoring shots around the greens, so that you can get very familiar with the various shots you can hit by altering your technique, or
2. Use one technique and select the club that will give you the shot trajectory and spin that the shot at hand calls for.
I observe golfers that call on the soft lob shot for nearly all their greenside scoring, and know others who are masters of the bump and run. Both end up with a limited repertoire that just will not serve them through the wide variety of shots that you will face in a round of golf.

To my way of thinking, the “right” approach to scoring around the greens lies somewhere in between the two extremes mentioned above, and varies based on each golfer’s particular short game prowess. For most golfers, however, I’m convinced a better short game lies in the ability to master 3 basic techniques for chipping and pitching, and then knowing what each technique will produce with a variety of clubs.

I think every golfer should have the ability to hit three essential scoring shots.
1. The basic pitch is a short swing that produces a repeatable flight of the ball and adequate spin to be consistent in estimating roll-out.
2. The basic chip is an even shorter swing that is used when you want much more roll than carry on the shot.
3. The soft lob is used when you need good air time, and enough height and spin to stop the ball reasonably quickly after it lands.
Because these each are worthy of a full article, I’m going to dive into each technique on the next three Friday posts. But today, let’s talk about the idea of club selection as the fourth variable in the short game, with these three shots being the other.

If you have a favorite club for use around the greens, then you probably also have a favorite technique. One of my buddies, for example, is a solid 6-7 handicap player, mainly because he is very good around the greens. His “go to” shot is a bump and run, which he uses to amazing efficiency. As I’ve played with him over the past couple of years, I notice that he varies his club to change the shot, but his technique remains rather consistent – ball back, face hooded some, and a simple, quiet-hands back and through motion, much like his putting stroke. (Which by the way, is pretty darn deadly.) As a relatively new golfer, he simplifies the entire process of shot selection around the greens. He knows the shot he wants to hit, and the only variable to him is which club will give him the combination of carry and roll to achieve his objective. When he leaves the cart to go over to his chip or pitch, he always has 2-4 clubs with him so that he can plan and execute the shot he envisions.

I have also observed those players who are “one club” guys around the greens. No matter where their ball might be, they always take their sand wedge or lob wedge, or often a 9- or 8-iron, and will figure it out when they get there. Now, some of these are pretty darn good, I admit, but they also hit way too many shots that just don’t get anywhere close because of their limited practice time or the shot they know just won’t work from that lie. If you are going to try to execute a variety of shots with just one club, it’s not going to happen unless you put in the hours on the practice range and practice green to see just what all you can make that one club do. And even then, you are seriously handicapping yourself with that approach.

My recommendation is to learn three basic short game techniques, and then combine that knowledge with smart club selection to give yourself a full complement of shots that can get you close from just about any kind of lie and situation.

Let’s visit about that for a few days, and Friday’s column will start this series with a full discussion of the basic chipping technique.

photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
bducharm says:
When I attended a 2 day golf school with Chuck Cook, he advocated 4 approaches: the square pinch, the cut pinch, the square lob, and the cut lob. These are based on 3 strategies: LTD (lie, trajectory, and distance). Evaluate your lie, what kind of trajectory do you need to use, and what distance do you have to carry the ball. The 2 "square" shots come when you have some more green to use, the pinches come when you have a better lie but need to stop the ball quicker.
onedollarwed says:
I've posted much about this, so I'll promise to keep it short. I used to be a one club guy (58* with a lot of bounce). Because of reading Wedguy, and other oobstuff, I made a sudden switch to multiple wedges around the green when the 58 was worn out - previously 52 was for only distance gap. Now, 60* low bounce, 56* high bounce, and 52* medium bounce make up the set from about 125yds and in. 60 for pitch, lob, or 95yds. 56 for sand, fluff rough,or 110yds. 52 for chip, longer sand, or 125yds. Those are for normal situations. Of course for awkward shots, somthing usually suggests itself.
But the important part was making the transition and taking time to find strategic roles for each club to maximize the "room for error" of any particular shot. It's good to actually use all of the clubs regularly. If you don't really need it take it out of the bag. I'm still learning the finer points, but it's a far better set of options. If you're new to this column, stick around and read everything!
cheymike says:
JMHO, but there are too many variables to limit myself to just ONE club close to the green. If I'm out front, with nothing but fairway between me and the green, I'll probably use a bump and run with whatever iron I feel is appropriate for the distance. If there's heavy grass (the longer cut stuff) between me and the green, it will probably be a more lofted (7,8,9) iron chip with the loft being decided by distance it can run after clearing the heavy grass and still have a chance of getting close to the pin. If theres water or a bunker in the way, a pitch with a wedge is probably going to be my choice, again depending on the distance things can run after clearing the hazard. The other variable is distance from the edge of the green to the pin.. that's always got to be figured into the choice.
Ward says:
i think it depends greatly on how much practice time you have,

I'd think the less you practice, the better off you are to just pick one club and stick to that one club. if you practice a lot you can do better with more club options
onedollarwed says:
A big advantage when I used one club is that there was never any doubt about which club to use. It's a little hard to imagine that now, and it hasn't even been a year. And most of the time it was exactly the right club, and I could get great results.
When you play with that much feel, and in a sense, improvisation (as far as club manipulation), when you're hot, you're really hot! I haven't measured, but I wonder if Wedguy has stats on loft angles you can acheive with a wedge with adjusting the ball position only between the feet, and moderate hand positioning? I would venture a gues that you could take a 52* wedge and essentially acheive the loft of 6 iron all the way to lob without too much wrangling.
Of course loft isn't everything, and you're sacrificing other club properties by adjusting loft alone.
Tim Horan says:
My "go to shot" is generally a bump and run however depending on the ground conditions, uphill/downhill lies I will vary the club between 7 iron and lob wedge.
Where I need the height/carry I will vary these between 48 and 60 degree wedges and as BDucharm says...vary these between pinched and lob depending on conditions. I practice my shortgame for around an hour before play whenever possible especially on strange courses.
Changed out says:
I've found that a pretty consistent way to use a bump and run (when the situation allows) is to walk off the distance between you and the hole and figure out a percentage of how far you can fly the shot. I use my 7 iron when I want to fly it 25% of the way to the hole and a PW when I want to fly it 50%. The 9 and 8 fall in between and it varies on the lie and speed of the green as well. The idea for me is to get the ball rolling as soon as I can. I do this because I don't have a lot of time to practice and it seems to work pretty well. It takes some of the thinking out of it. You just read the break and pick a spot you want to land.
Banker85 says:
i admit i am a one clubber around the green 60* but i do have different shots i hit with it. I can open it up and flop it and pinch it and get it rolling. I dont practice much so i dont feel comfortable with an iron chipping never have, i cant get the feel like i can with my Lob. 9 out of 10 times if i am chipping with say 8 iron it will pop off the face hot and go too far.
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
    Golf Talk
Most Popular: