Fresh off his win at the 2018 Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose showed up on Tuesday at a TaylorMade media event held at Heritage Golf Club — just down the road from Muirfield Village during The Memorial — to give an insight into his short game philosophies. He had traveled home to the Bahamas after his win on Sunday, but he made it back for the event in Ohio on Tuesday. Much appreciated, JR.
Thanks to his generosity, and brilliant golf mind, Rose gifted the on-site media members with a short game clinic for the ages. Using TaylorMade’s new Hi-Toe wedge — he spoke on the versatility of the grind throughout the session — he hit long bunker shots, short bunker shots, flop shots, low skippers and high lobs. And he taught us how to play all of the shots.
Due to popular demand on our Instagram account, where we’ve released snippets of his instruction, we’ve decided to release all of the videos we have from the event. Yes, we shot the videos with a phone so there’s a bit of wind and volume issues, but we thought the instruction and philosophies in this video needed to be seen.
Enjoy the video below!! For a glossary of time stamps/topics and transcription, check underneath the video.
Long bunker shots — 0:06
“Even for these very long bunker shots, you’ll see me play a lot of loft. A lot of face open. And, yea, one, by playing it open I’m not gonna hit the ball very far. But the more I play it open, the more bounce I’m putting on it. To me, bounce is the most important thing to create distance in a bunker shot. So even though I’m playing it super wide open, I also have my stance really really wide. And the only reason I do that is I feel like the narrower I stand, the steeper my angle of attack. The wider I stand, the shallower my angle of attack. So again, more ability to use that bounce and the less chance of my club digging in.”
Short bunker shots — 0:42
“So I’ll stand very wide, then I’m gonna go a lot more weight on my left side. Now I’m gonna be using a different part of my club and really trusting the leading edge. Face super wide open, and I’m just gonna be chopping the leading edge right on the ball…. That’s the way I would play it to come out super short. And sometimes that’s the way you have to play it when there’s not a lot of sand in the bunker. When you’re trying to play a super delicate shot, and you sort of like, and you’re really trying to get under the ball, and if you’ve got not enough sand, the clubs gonna bounce and you’re not gonna get that coming out soft.”
Flop shots from good lies — 1:29
“I’m gonna play it how I feel is almost a very shallow, sweepy draw feel. I wanna feel very connected with my elbows and my body. A bit like the bunker, I’m gonna have the ball up and have my hands low, but I’m not gonna be open. And I’m basically just gonna stay very connected. And gonna sweep underneath it.
Flop shots from bad lies — 1:54
This doesn’t now offer me the same opportunity. Now I’m gonna be using the front end of the golf club. So now obviously I need loft. I’m very willing to lay it wide open. Now I’m 90 percent of my weight on my front foot. This is a bit more like how Mickelson would hit his lob shots. He’s way open, weight is way left, and he really commits to driving the leading edge down. And you’re saying you designed it with almost 25 degrees of bounce (the TaylorMade Hi-Toe wedge) on the leading edge; that would really give me the confidence to really drive that down into the ground. So with a bad lie, I’m going weight forward, (face) way open… and driving it down.”
How to use the bounce like Seve — 2:42
“Now one thing I’ve learned not to be scared of even on a tight lie, is, so, you have position 1 (lead armpit), 2 (middle of chest) and 3 (rear armpit). So I’ve always felt that where the most important ball position is relative to your upper body not necessarily your feet. I feel like when we’re chipping, the club always wants to lengthen at its longest/lowest point, underneath the left arm or left armpit area, so that’s the low point. So if I put the ball back, my low points ahead of the ball. So it’s always going to be descending, descending, descending, descending, until it gets to my low point, which is ahead of the ball. So that’s a way to guarantee contact.
So if I want to hit a soft shot, I’m sometimes more than happy to play the ball and the low point at the same point. And I’m more than happy to actually put the handle of the club behind. So it’s position 1 (left armpit), position 1 (the ball) and position 2 (the club). And now, just keep these connection with my armpits and turn through. And that’s, believe it or not, how Seve (Ballesteros) chipped there; hit three or four inches behind it. He often talked about that the ground absorbs the energy of the club like the sand. The sand slows the club down. Seve always liked the ball to come out soft and never relied on spin. He wanted it to roll in as much as he could like a putt. He would always go for height, land, roll out. Rather than low, grabby, spinner.
Phil vs. Seve technique — 4:16
The Phil Mickelson approach would be, he’s always committed to driving that thing down. He’s the hinge it, and pinch it. So he’s always working that leading edge down. And I guess that’s why he uses that 64-degree, his method’s very different. Seve only ever used a 56-degree. Seve could hit incredibly soft shots; his whole technique was designed about returning loft, increasing loft. And he would always be really soft on grip pressure. One thing, he would always hold it 1 or 2 out of 10 and literally chip it and let go of the club. That’s how soft it would be in his hands.
But anyways the other approach is if you kind of got the heebee-jeebees and hit the ground first, Phil’s approach is the simplest possible shot is you hit everything off the back foot with a square club face. It’s that hinge, and a pinch through. And then obviously if he needs to do something different, he will play it front foot, open club face, and still very much the same; hinge it, and pinch it through. That’s all well and good, but the contact, there’s no margin for error. You have to be spot on every single time.
Long arc vs. Short arc — 5:29
I think for me, if you basically just… the principles are if you want to get back to a back pin I always tend to go long arc, so the club and my left arm being long, and that arc is quite long, it’s going to have more energy, more mass on the strike. That’s always coming out quite quick. Now I’m always going to get the ball back to a back pin. If I’m playing something shorter to a front pin, I’m always feeling like I’m now getting down to it. I’m cracking the left elbow. So I’m making the radius, the length shorter so there’s less energy, less mass. And now I’m gonna be shortening it even more. So I’ll get that coming out soft. So just some of the principles really that are involved.
Traditional putting grip vs. the claw — 6:25
So when I putt traditionally I’m very sensitive, I feel every little, tiny movement of my stroke and I start to nitpick my stroke way too much. When I put this grip (the claw) in play I found that I sort of calmed down all the sensations that I was feeling a little bit and just made everything a little more simple up here (points to head). So I don’t fight the stroke as much. And that’s the most important thing. So yea I get in there this way. The reason I tuck the shirt in last week (at the Fort Worth Invitational, which he won) is that I felt that I was beginning to steer it a bit. I felt like I was beginning to push my hands out a little bit too much. So just by popping this here (shirt under the left armpit), I wasn’t jamming it in, but it just kinda gave me the sense that my chest and upper left arm could work in rhythm together. And that felt like it just really helped with the rhythm and the flow of the stroke. (A pretty cheap training aid). Yea.
Justin Rose’s putting routine — 7:20
As I walk into the putt, I’m building that picture back to the ball, so I’m kind of aware where the ball is and I’m building that line back. I then sort of quiet my eyes down at the ball, I then feel like I’m… on the back of my putter it has a channel, so I feel like I’m laying down a bit of a tube or a channel for the first couple feet. This little clear area (points to cutout in the back of his putter), it pretty much is the width of the ball, so I feel like I’m just laying down like a bit of a starting tube really. Now that’s what the ball is going to start down. I don’t really consciously aim the putter but I set my tube is what it feels like. And then I set my awareness to the hole, and then I track my eyes down the line to the hole. Awareness back to the ball, eyes back to the ball, and now the key is my eyes are staying dead still on the ball but my awareness goes to the hole and I’ll react to that. (Drains 6-footer.)
Gabe Hjertstedt teaches Doc Rivers how to hit the lofted chip shot
In the first episode of this instructional series with Short Game Guru Gabe Hjertstedt and NBA Coach for the Los Angeles Clippers Doc Rivers, Gabe teaches Doc how to hit the lofted chip shot to get the ball to stop quicker on the green.
Look out for more videos this week including more from Gabe and Doc’s short game session, their full lesson, and our interview with Doc.
Enjoy the first video below!
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3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand
One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.
The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.
1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce
Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.
2) Control your Angle of Attack
As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.
So what do I mean by this?
The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.
The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.
3) Keep your pivot moving
It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.
You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.
So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.
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