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8 adjustments you can make right now for a better short game

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There is a big disconnect for many golfers when it comes to their short game. Too frequently, golfers are trying to implement characteristics of their power game for their short shots. I am a firm believer that all golfers need to perfect four different golfing movements to help them maximize their games. They are…

  1. Rolling the golf ball on the ground, or putting.
  2. Maximizing distance when hitting the golf ball off of a tee.   
  3. Maximizing distance when hitting the golf ball off of the ground.
  4. Minimizing distance when hitting the golf ball off of the ground.

What this article hopes to address is some different concepts to help our GolfWRX readers excel at movement No. 4, or minimizing distance when witting the golf ball off of the ground.

To keep things simple, I want my GolfWRX readers to start asking themselves, “Will this concept help me hit the golf ball farther, or shorter?” If you’re not sure, go on out and experiment yourself! Or, let’s take a look at a few variables to help you get a head start.

1) Ball position

Which ball position will hit the golf ball farther; toward the target foot or the back foot? Many golfers are taught to place their ball position towards their back foot for short shots, especially chipping. While this does encourage ball first contact, it also de-lofts the golf club, which typically produces golf shots that launch lower and travel farther. The more you have your ball position starting at the middle of your stance and moving more towards the target, the higher your golf ball wants to launch and the less it wants to travel.  

2) Lower body positioning

Which lower body positioning will hit the golf ball farther; a lower body that is open and facing the target, or facing the golf ball? Many golfers are taught to open their lower body at address, or have their facing the target more than they are facing the golf ball. This is frequently taught because it helps golfers get a head start on returning to a similar impact position that is achieved with your full swing. If we want our hips to be facing the target to maximize distance, starting with our stance in that position seems to be defeating the purpose of hitting a golf ball a shorter distance. Rather, I want you to consider keeping your body facing the golf ball and limit your lower body’s rotation, especially on your down swing. Your lower body should be used more as a resource for stability, not power.

3) Width of stance

Which width of stance will hit the golf farther; a wider stance, or a narrower stance? Many golfers are taught to widen their base to maintain balance and supports lateral motion for full swing shots, or golf shots we want to travel the farthest. Unfortunately, this wider stance really affects the consistency to the bottom of our swing arc for short shots. To add fuel to the fire, a wider stance can encourage lateral motion, which can be an unnecessary source of power for short shots. Therefore, for most short shots, I want to encourage a narrower stance.

4) Club face positioning

Which club face will hit the golf ball farther; a club face that is closed, or a club face that is open? When the club face is open (or pointed to the right of the target for a right handed golfer), there is more loft and less mass behind the golf ball, which produces shots that launch higher but travel shorter distances. When the club face is closed (or pointed to the left of the target for a right handed golfer), there is less loft and more mass behind the golf ball, which produces shots that launch lower but travels greater distances.

5) Grip

Many of us are taught to grab the golf club in a closed face position to help us square up the club face for our full swing shots. This is a characteristic that matches up well for skill sets No. 2 and 3, hitting the golf ball as far as possible. However, to have a better chance of hitting shots a shorter distance, you can choose the grab the golf club with a more open faced grip to help you keep your club face open and hit higher launching, shorter traveling golf shots.

6) Wrist positioning

Which wrist position will hit the golf ball farther; a wrist position in flexion (bowed) or a wrist position in extension (cupped)? When you look at Dustin Johnson’s swing, you see wrists that are in flexion, which is a big component that helps Dustin keep his club face closed throughout his golf swing. Wrists in flexion are a wonderful component to hit the golf ball a long way, but may not be the greatest position to hit the golf ball a short distance.  Consider placing your wrists in extension, which helps open the face through out the strike.

7) Forearm rotation

Will you hit the golf ball farther if you pronate your forearms, or supinate your forearms? If you rotate your forearms counter clockwise, or pronate them (as a right handed golfer), you’re closing the club face. If you rotate your forearms in a clockwise manner, or supinate them (as a right handed golfer), you are opening your club face.

8) Path

Which path will help you hit the golf ball farther; a path that is a draw oriented path, or a path that is a fade oriented path? Assuming you are trying to hit golf shots straight, a draw oriented path matches up more efficiently to a closed club face. Likewise, a fade oriented path always matches up to an open club face position. Per our conversation above regarding club face properties, we want to encourage a fade oriented path to help hit the golf ball a shorter distance.

The big key for all of you GolfWRX golfers reading this article is to now go out and experiment with all of these variables, and see which components work for you! You might find that the extended wrist positioning works well for you with thick rough conditions, but poorly from tight lies. You might find that a square body helps you from tight lies, but maximizes your ability to hit the golf ball with your sand wedge at 30 yards. You might find that playing from more of an open faced grip helps you for all shots inside of 40 yards. Experiment with the variables and find the right components that work for you. Good luck!

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified www.youtube.com/uranser

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. TheCityGame

    Sep 10, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    There are 256 different combinations of these variables. And that’s if we limit each one to only two options (which isn’t the case).

    I’m almost convinced this is actually a humor piece.

    As instruction, it is probably worse than useless. Like actually harmful in its complexity.

  2. Mike

    Sep 9, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Some decent points made, but, forearm rotation? I’m a 16 index, that’s way above my comprehension level.

  3. Rusty Chambeauner

    Sep 9, 2018 at 11:16 am

    I found this article to be especially helpful, and reminds me not to get sucked into a consistent routine when trying to hit different shots

  4. Bryan

    Sep 8, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Possibly the worst article I’ve read on this site to date. Article is unclear on several fronts and think any of these tips are helpful when witting a golf ball.

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Instruction

Stickney: Sit on it (for a better backswing)

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As we know golf, is a very tough sport and one that involves many moving pieces. Whenever something overreacts or moves too much on the way back, you end up playing catch-up on the way down. One of my favorite things to watch is how the head moves or doesn’t move on the backswing. Sure, you can have some movement, but you can’t have too much or you put yourself behind the eight ball.

I have charted the head position of a tour player at address and we can see that this is a very normal set up position. It is one that looks positioned to do great things.

However, en route to the top, you can see that this player has put himself into a position where his rear knee straightened too rapidly off the start of his backswing. When this occurs the pelvis “runs out from under” the upper body on the backswing the hips will react and begin to slant downward. (You can see a -10 degree tilt versus 3 degrees the opposite way at address for you number people.)

This causes the head to move out in front of where it was at address. This is not a bad position for the irons but for a driver we have a pending issue. If you don’t make a compensation from here then the player will have an angle of attack that is too much downward through impact with their driver.

As the player moves into his transition, the hips have leveled as the rear shoulder lowers the club into delivery but the head and pelvis are still too far out in front of the ball. The only thing you can do from here is fire the lead side upwards and hope that your head falls back into the correct position. If so, you will have the correct angle of attack, if not, you will chop down on the ball causing your launch conditions to be faulty.

And as we see here that this is precisely what this player did at the very last minute…not the easiest way to swing the club but it is functional IF you make the right correction. So, now that you understand how simple things like the action of the lower body can cause your head to move and your angle of attack to become faulty, what is the secret to controlling your lower body?


Just “sit” on the rear knee flex slightly longer during the backswing as you see here. This will slow down the tilting of the pelvis on backswing and thus your head will stay more in position en route to the top.

Personally, I teach both flexion and extension of the rear knee to the top, depending on what the player is wanting to do, so it really does not matter. However, what does matter is the rate at which it begins to straighten for those of you who do allow it to lengthen. I try to make most of my students hold the most of their address flex until the club moves between belt and chest high, any sooner and you risk the faulty pivot we saw above.

Therefore, take it from me and “sit on it” slightly longer for more quiet head motions as well as a more balanced backswing—your angle of attack will thank you!

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Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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