Geeked on Golf

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Short Game Game Plan

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One of the factors contributing to the variance between my current index and scratch is inconsistent wedge play.  I estimate that I’m leaving 2 shots on the course every round.  In reflecting on my short game, it occurs to me that part of the issue is a lack of commitment to one approach.

I have worked on my wedge game with my coach, I have read the tips in Golf Digest, and I have studied the teachings of Stan Utley and others.  There are numerous approaches to the short game, and techniques are often in conflict with one another.  Too much information can become confusing, and confusion never produces consistently good play.

Therefore, as of now, I have chosen a plan for my game from 100 yards and in.  It is the game plan that feels simplest to me, based on the technique I can most effectively groove.  Three sources of instruction have been most influential in arriving at this commitment:

1. My coach Scott Baines has been working with me on a more neutral setup and action (as opposed to hands forward and/or heavy on the wrist action) that takes better advantage of the bounce of the club.

2. This article from Golf Digest – The New Thing on Tour –  describing the straight-arm pitching method now en vogue among tour players.

3. Stan Utley’s teachings, encapsulated in this Golf Channel video, specifically regarding the path of the club head and his simple arm/body motion:

Based on these perspectives, my approach to a single “stock” technique is:

  • Neutral setup, with ball slightly forward of center and narrow, square stance.  Weight slightly forward 55/45 so head is over ball.  Good, tall posture.
  • Simple, relaxed straight-arm backswing using minimal wrist hinge.  Swing length plus body turn controls distance.
  • Gravity and club do most of the work on downswing (rather than hands), with body rotating toward target.  Club head stays in front of body and finishes between knees and shoulders, depending on length of shot.
  • The whole movement is quiet, relaxed and rhythmic.

That is the simple technique.  My stock shot is with my 58-degree wedge with a square club face.  It lands softly and runs out.

Rather than use ball position or technique to vary height and run-out, I will use different clubs and club face angles to give myself options – always employing the same technique above.

Using the 3 face positions with the 58-Degree wedge, as well as the 53-Degree gap wedge, pitching wedge, and 9-iron, I have 6 shot options.  Plenty to tackle any circumstance.

Knowing that the technique will remain the same for every shot allows me to focus on the target and selecting the right club based on a) distance to the best landing spot, and b) run-out length from the landing spot to the hole.  In my experience, target-focused golf based on confidence in simple technique and club selection yields the best results.

In this case, the intended result is to pick up at least the two shots I have been losing by increasing the number of hole-outs and kick-ins I create from 100 yards and in.

That’s the plan.  Now on to the process of grooving it in practice and taking it to the course.  I will report back with results – stay tuned…

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