We all know golfers who are men of poise and polish off a tee, who hit their four-irons firm and their seven-irons crisp and high. And then, when faced with a shot that is a mere 30 yards or less from the green, they go into a shaky-kneed funk that makes a shambles of their score. "I just can't hit the short shots," they'll say. "It's a different game around the green." A majority of golfers share this attitude to some degree, and they are wrong. The short game is not different; the basic ingredients of the swing for the short shot and the long shot are exactly the same. You can even think of the short-shot swing as nothing but the bottom part of the drive. The hand action is the same. Thus not only is the swing your friendly old familiar one, though shorter, but you can also put backspin or overspin on the ball as you choose, by making changes in your grip and stance exactly as I told you to do with the drive in Part I. The ball is still played off the inside of the left foot, just as with the drive but, in keeping with the shorter arc of the swing, the right foot is moved much closer to the left. On the normal approach there is one thing to do before swinging at all. Since it is best to let the ball roll on the green as far as possible, pick a spot about eight feet into the green for the ball to land on. Now pretend you are going to just toss the ball into the hole. Decide how low you would have to throw it to make it hit the spot you have selected and roll to the hole, then use a club that will give the ball the same trajectory which you envisioned.
The pitch shot is hit as if you were lobbing the ball. Pick the spot where you want the ball to land before you swing.
A SWING FOR EVERY OCCASION
When pitching and chipping, the flight of the ball and the length of the roll are governed by the grip you use and the stance you take when you address the ball. In the majority of cases you will want to use the normal, three-knuckle grip, with the club head moving squarely away from and then into the ball. Any deviations from this are for unusual circumstances, and the more accustomed you get to the square stance and normal grip, the better you will be able to take advantage of the closed or open club face when circumstances demand a change. In the previous installment you saw how the weak grip and the open stance produced a fade or a slice when you hit the full shot. With the short shot, the same grip and stance serve to pop the ball into the air with the maximum trajectory that a given club can produce. The ball will also have the maximum amount of backspin. When you assume this open stance, you will find that your hands are well behind the ball, almost over your right knee. Conversely, the strong grip and the closed stance, with the hands almost over the left knee at address, will give the ball over-spin, thus providing the most roll. On this page you can see how changing your grip and stance changes the way the club head comes into the ball. On the next page are three important things to remember about all short shots.
High shots and most backspin come from weak grip, open stance and open club face. Club head parallels a line from toe to toe.
Low shots and longer roll are the result of a closed club face (left). Use a hooker's grip, a closed stance and swing inside out.
Normal shots come when club face is square to ball. The grip is same as in normal long shot, and ball will have little spin.
Backswing length is what governs how far the shot goes—the briefer the backswing, the shorter the shot. To keep follow-through smooth, think of the club head as a pendulum (right). Swing as far forward as you swung back.
Tension on short shots can be relieved by starting the backswing (left) with the turn of the left shoulder. This prevents jerking the club back and tends to keep the club head close to ground, reducing the chances of stubbing the shot.
Weight to the left is a cardinal rule on the short shot. The shoulders make the same turn as on the long shot, and the hips slide forward the same way to start the downswing, but the weight must remain forward throughout.