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SECRETS OF THE SHORT GAME
Jerry Barber
February 18, 1963
The most frequent cause of poor scoring in golf is a lack of skill in the delicate shots made within 75 yards of the green. These are shots that can create low-scoring rounds and also make up for countless earlier errors. Now, for the first time, Jerry Barber (see cover), the 1961 PGA champion and Ryder Cup team captain, describes in detail the fundamentals of a simple—and unusual—technique that has enabled him to become one of the very best short-game players on the professional tour
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February 18, 1963

Secrets Of The Short Game

The most frequent cause of poor scoring in golf is a lack of skill in the delicate shots made within 75 yards of the green. These are shots that can create low-scoring rounds and also make up for countless earlier errors. Now, for the first time, Jerry Barber (see cover), the 1961 PGA champion and Ryder Cup team captain, describes in detail the fundamentals of a simple—and unusual—technique that has enabled him to become one of the very best short-game players on the professional tour

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THE CHIP SHOT Its fundamentals are the same as the pitch

For a shot from very close to the green, several adjustments (described below) must be made, but basically the grip, stance and swing remain unchanged. The shot becomes simply a question of which club to use and how hard to swing it. I feel, by the way, that every player should carry a 10-iron rather than the more commonly used heavy-flanged pitching wedge. The 10-iron is a superior club for general use. It is fine for hitting from tight lies and can even be used for some kinds of bunker shots as well as pitches and chip shots. In chipping, anything from a six-iron to a 10-iron should be considered. The following principle determines the choice: after being hit, the ball should land as close to the player as possible—this means he has better control over the shot—but far enough on the green to eliminate any chance of its catching in the heavier grass of the apron. In other words, the player should not attempt to throw the ball right at the flagstick with a 10-iron if he can safely land it well into the green with a six-iron and roll it up to the hole. If the grass is heavy or wet, if its grain or the green slopes toward him, the player should try to reduce the amount of roll. If the grass is dry and cut short or the green or grain slopes away, then greater control is achieved if the amount of roll is increased.

The heels are only four to six inches apart for the chip shot, and the feet, hips and shoulders are opened toward the hole. The ball is played just back of the left heel. The club is gripped at the bottom of the leather, thus keeping the arc of the swing very compact and under control. The wrists should break quite sharply at the start of the backswing, and, as in the pitch shot, the player must hold the club very firmly with the last three fingers of the left hand. He must think only in terms of the left hand and arm as he swings the club back, down, into and through the ball. This will help to eliminate the erratic influence of the right hand.

The weight remains steady throughout the swing, practically all of it (red shading) on the left foot. There must be almost no body pivot and the backswing should not be too long, but the club must go back enough to give the muscles of the left side and arm a comfortable sense of being stretched out. This will give the player a good sense of rhythm with the shot and help him avoid making a hurried stab with his right hand at the ball on the downswing. The swing should be unhurried. The follow-through is as long as the backswing. After a little practice the hands and fingers will supply a sense of how hard to hit the ball.

PICK A TARGET Then try to land the hall on it
When hitting either pitch or chip shots a player should not use the hole as his target. He should pick a small area on the green on which to land the ball so that it can roll up to the hole. This will help him hit a firmer shot. It is also helpful to actually pace off various distances during practice sessions and hit pitch shots of these measured lengths. Eventually this will enable the player to associate an actual distance in yards with the feel of a given shot.

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