As most people say, it’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish that counts. One version of this quote is very much true in the case of golf. Many golfers are so focused on the power and distance shots, that they fail to give equal importance to the ‘short game’ (i.e.) the skills needed to play the ball in and around the green. Experts call this aspect of the game – a game within a game.
Often having a good short game strategy and implementing it effectively differentiates a great player from a good one. And it’s no secret that golfers with a good short game strategy have lower handicap. Golfers in the know would agree that Ben Hogan, who had an excellent swing, couldn’t win another a major post 1953 because of the mistakes he made in his short game.
Golf is all about planning and execution and the strategy you frame must complement your strengths and skills. Here are a few tips that’ll make you a good player around the greens.
For chipping, the downswing must be fast, but the follow through low. Accuracy is the key when playing around the green, so strive for good contact.
The ideal chipping setup: Position the ball slightly left of center (in case of right-handed players) in your stance, move the body weight slightly towards the left, and slant the iron towards the target. On the backswing maintain a firm wrist and bring down the club-head with force. You’re not aiming to hit the ball far, so at the finish the club-head must be low.
For the pitch shots, place the ball forward in the stance and slightly open the clubface. While going back, hinge the club, and during the downswing unhinge. Feel the club swinging down and while going trough. The force of your swing must slowly pull your body to the finish, but make sure the body doesn’t pull the iron through. The secret of hitting a perfect pitch is to not allow the body to take over the shot.
A few adjustments are necessary for the ball to gain the loft you want. Begin by opening the clubface, place the ball closer to the left foot, and the shaft should lean back slightly. Adjust your hands so that the left hand faces the target, and go light on the grip. Next, during the back swing hinge the club and re-hinge during the follow through. You swing must be in one long and lazy motion.
It is well known that for increased spin a trapping motion is vital, but most players get the execution wrong. Backspin is created by crisp strokes and not by long and lazy swings. Open the clubface, and place the ball forward in your stance, and on the downswing the iron must first strike the ball, and only after that the ground. This’ll aid you in achieving a compact finish.
Even experienced players find hard to read greens, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to at least get an approximation. Once accessing is done, lay the putter flat on its head, a little behind the ball. Your body must be parallel to the target, with the ball placed at the center of your stance. Experts have different views on the grip, some prefer the right hand at the bottom and left on the top, and some prefer the reverse. You can adopt either of these two or use your normal grip, but remember to hold the club lightly. Swing with momentum, get a pure contact, and the finish must be short.