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Short Shot Stroke Savers

By: Bob Burns

Golf Professional

Today's lesson holds good advice for women who need to compensate for their lack of distance off the tee, and for men who waste far too many shots around the greens.

Ask almost any teaching professional to name the most important single factor in teaching a woman to score well, and invariably the answer will be the short game—the pitch, the chip, and the putt—that will save her many strokes around the green. It's just a fact that most golf courses are too long for the average woman golfer to reach the green in regulation, so any girl who scores well does so because she has a good short game.

Even the women competing on the professional tour have to get the ball up and down from the green. Generally speaking, this is one part of the game where women are as good as, if not better than their male counterparts.

There are two types of shots that provide for a simple game: the pitch shot and the chip shot. The situation for the pitch shot would be beneficial when shooting over a bunker. For this shot, the pitching wedge or sand wedge could be used. This is certainly a key shot anytime the golfer has to get the ball up in a hurry and set it down with a little spin or roll. In addition, it is easy to control.

The chip shot is used around the green when there are no hazards between the ball and the hole. The object is to drop the ball on the edge of the putting surface and let it run the rest of the way to the hole. Club selection is governed largely by the distance the ball must carry through the air before reaching the green, and the amount of green between the golfer and the hole. For example, from a few feet off the putting surface, a 6-iron might loft the ball to the edge of the green from which it would roll to the hole.


From 15 yards out, however, the ball would roll too far. Thus, an 8-iron or an even more lofted club would probably be used. Most chips are really nothing more than long putts, except that the ball starts out by going just a little way through the air to miss the surface irregularities between the golfer and the green. The major difference between the two shots is that you are trying to minimize backspin with a chip shot and maximize it with a pitch shot. Under normal conditions, the chip shot is the safer of the two because roll is easier to judge than flight, and easier to control.  

Method of Execution: Stance- The stance must be open to the target. The feet should be at a 30-35 degree angle to the left of the hole. Get the hands ahead of the ball, place the majority of the weight on the left side and leave it there. With the weight and hands ahead, the golfer is virtually assured of striking the ball a descending blow and hitting it with the center of the club. 

Club Selection- The middle irons are the key clubs in chipping. The wedge will run because the ball gathers backspin as it rolls up the face of these clubs. Thus the pitching wedge, or sand wedge, is more conducive for high lofted pitch shots. 

Chip with Arms, but Add Wrists to Pitch- In chipping, maximum height and maximum roll is needed. Swing the club predominantly with the arms. Sweep the ball forward with little wrist action. In pitching, just the opposite—plenty of height, but no roll—is desired. Use more wrist action to make the ball rise. Swing the club head steeply downward onto it. In neither shot should the club face catch up with the hands until after impact.

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