Students, Golfers and Friends, 
 
      Hoping these holidays on and off the course are treating you well. Did any of you pay attention to the challenges golfers were having around the greens, at the Hero world challenge this week/weekend? Surely (and not just Tiger Woods who's obviously  redefining / redesigning areas of his full swing and distressed in his short game) players were troublesome from lies and situations where grain played a factor in short game mechanics/performance. Occasionally to the point where their feel in motion became second to the thought of mechanics in the short game shot process. 

    This is challenging. Especially for you amateurs. One thing we've clearly identified is using the bounce and keeping the body in motion is necessary to perform the shot as best as possible. Most of the time, coming up short (in other words the ball travels a distance shorter than your desired landing location) is a lack of acceleration, ball positioning and too much shaft lean (which can cause the leading edge to contact the ground before face contact is made). Clearly, this happened to quite a few players this week at the Hero challenge. It's also something Amateurs see every week during their weekly rounds. 
 
Let's discuss the proper way to setup and execute the shot. Mind you, when we speak on this particular shot, it is not a green side pitch and run with a lower lofted club (or some wizardry flop shot someone like Phil Mickelson performs) . There are variables that can change based on rough, hole location distance (enough room to use a 7/8 iron to pitch and run) and the different on course lies. 

      The shot we're speaking on is similar to the example in Matt Kuchar's practice session below. These are the shots some (and many amateur's) were challenged with this Week at the Hero Challenge.


 pl_kuchar_short_game_tues.jpg
 

  That being said, let's get into bettering your chances when faced with these lies.

SETUP:

     1) Feet Close together.
     2) Ball Position in the middle of the stance.
     3) Shaft Angle at address ever so slightly leading forward (half inch). 
     4) Add 5% of additional weight favoring the left quad.
     5) Keep Sternum / Chest aligned with Ball. 

chipping-setup-more-spin.jpg
 
 


 
PERFORMING: 
 
    Once setup is in order, it's time to perform and practice the shot correctly and effectively. 

   Soft hands from the palm region up to the arms is a good feeling to create, before the take away portion of this move begins. Obviously some tension in the finger tips is ideal, but the idea of firm or strained pressure on the club is unnecessary. You want enough firmness to stay connected in the take away, but don't feel strained or a restriction in the process. 

    In the take away portion, many Amateurs think about hinging immediately and or too soon. At times, this can cause the club to work a bit steep and create deceleration through the hitting area. The natural bounce of the club wont work correctly and the leading edge takes over. We've scene it a million times (low skull over the green, and or the earth celebrates with your club before the ball) and must make a few changes. 
 
1) Stay connected: In the first part take away all the way through the shot. Most professionals (have voiced over the years) that their distance control and line has improved(having a sensation of connected passiveness) all the way up to the target in pitch shots. The idea of leaning the shaft too far down and or forward, has presented more troubles in clean contact and or total distance control. Getting things more aligned (at impact) while in constant motion, is the favorable action that usually harvests a better result. 
 
inar03-adam-scott-shortgame.jpg
 
 
 
2) Keep the Body in motion: Once you get to a distance where it's classified as a pitch, there's more than just the arms swinging and or moving taking place. The lower portion of the body post impact continues to stay in motion with the club. Which leads us to our finale....
 
 
3) Hold the Finish Post impact. There's something to be said about Proprioception (which is how our bodies are positioned and somewhat of a think-forward process) each time you perform the shot (as the body stays in motion up until post impact) hold the finish for 2-3 seconds each and every time. 
 
Example: Matt Bettencourt Holding the finish. 
940-bettencourt-matt.jpg
 
 
 
Take the time to realign and redesign your pitch shots around the greens. Obviously different lies and distances can alter setup and your approach, but use this to your advantage to the (10-20-30 yard shots) we witnessed at the Hero World Challenge this past week. You will be better for it! 
 
As a bonus, (and because this question comes up often) I've included a face down address positioning of your golf ball. This is a good standard to work with. There's no absolutes (as on the course lies can change the variable in ball positioning) but most professionals and good players I've worked with would agree on this example. 

300_BALL_POSITION_GUIDE.jpg

Happy Holidays and I truly look forward in our next range session together. Making you a better player in all areas is the goal in 2015. For now this is a good start for some short game success. Best to you - James Jordan
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