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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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