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Tagged "Short Game"

Learn to Hit Your Chip Shots Solid from Tight Lies

  There aren’t too many shots in golf that get even the best players a little nervous. Maybe the long bunker shot. Maybe the island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. But the chip shot off of tight grass is one that falls in that category. It doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult but even the slightest mishit can result in disaster. You know the feeling when the ball is sitting down on tight grass. You’re trying to figure out how to get the club under the ball and what usually happens is you dig the club into the ground and chunk the shot, or catch the ball thin and watch it shoot across the green. The issue is that there just isn’t much room for error. With the ball sitting in the rough or even on slightly taller fairway grass, it’s easy to get the ball in the air. When we set the club down behind the ball on tight grass, we’re just not sure what to do. The good news is that it can be done and it’s actually not as tough as you would think. You just need to change the way you approach the shot. Here are some tips to make quick work of tight lies around the greens:

Keep the Club from Digging

  The problem most golfers have with tight lies around the green is that they tend to dig the club into the turf. When the club digs it usually hits behind the ball and leads to a chunked shot. The reason golfers dig the club into the turf comes from years of being told to “hit down on the ball”. You’ve heard it from good players, teachers, and announcers on TV. “The tighter the lie, the more you need to hit down to make solid contact”. However, if you watch a professional golfer hit a chip or pitch from tight grass you won’t see a violent downward strike with a divot being taken. You’ll see a smooth, neutral swing where the club brushes the grass and makes solid contact with the ball. So the key is to keep the club from digging. Let’s look at a few things you can do to keep from digging:

Setup Neutral

  If you adjust the setup to be more neutral, you will reduce the tendency to dig. This means having the ball positioned even with the center of your body. A ball positioned too far back can cause digging. This also means only setting your hands slightly ahead of the golf ball. A lot of golfers want to use a big forward press. This causes the club to dig as well. A neutral setup equals a neutral swing.

Less Wrist Hinge

  This is a big part of avoiding the dig. The more you hinge your wrists on the backswing the steeper the swing becomes. The steeper the swing becomes the more the club wants to dig in the turf. As we know the more the club digs the better chance we have of mishitting the shot. Practice making chip shot swings using less wrist action. Instead of feeling like the hands and wrists move the club away, feel like the shoulder and arms move the club away with the hands being more neutral. The reduced wrist hinge you get from this technique will keep the club from digging.

Use the Bounce

  Bounce is a mystery to a lot of golfers. Basically it’s how much the trailing edge of the sole of a wedge sits below the leading edge. Almost every wedge has some degree of bounce (if yours has zero, get a new wedge). The purpose of the bounce is to keep the club from digging. The problem is when you hit down too much and lean the shaft forward, the bounce is neutralized and the leading edge hit and digs into the ground first. To avoid this take some swings and feel the bottom of the wedge bumping or scraping the turf. If you do it correctly you’ll feel the club hit the turf and then bounce off. If you lean the shaft forward too much you’ll feel the leading wedge dig into the turf. The great thing about using the bounce is that it makes the club more forgiving. You can actually hit behind the golf ball and still hit a good shot because the club doesn’t dig. Shots from tight grass around the greens don’t have to be that tough. If you can keep the club from digging you’ll have much more success.   Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at
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Improve Your Club Selection on Short Game Shots

  Golf is a complicated game. Not only do you need a good swing, you have to account for the elements, topography, grass, and you have to pick the right club. Sounds complicated! Around the greens can be even trickier from the club selection standpoint. There are just so many different ways to play shots. For a simple shot from the edge of the green, 7 or 8 different clubs could work. So how do we make sense of this and actually pick the club that gives us the best chance for success? Here are 3 things to consider that will lead to better results:

The Lie Determines the Shot

  One of the great things about golf is that you rarely see the exact same shot twice. The variety of situations and lies peak our interest and keep the game challenging. Despite this, there are many golfers who don’t pay attention to their lie. The way the golf ball sits on the ground is the number 1 thing you should consider when assessing a shot around the green. Any particular shot becomes exponentially more difficult with a bad lie. If you have shot over a bunker to tight hole location, it would be very difficult to play a flop shot off tight or firm grass. In this instance you would be better suited to play a normal pitch shot with a sand wedge past the hole as opposed to an open faced lob wedge. If your ball is sitting down in heavy rough just off the edge of the green, it would be difficult to use an 8 iron and play a bump and run shot. The straighter face and smaller swing you will take with an 8 iron makes it tough to dig the ball out of the long grass. A better play would be to take a sand or gap wedge, play the ball slightly back in your stance, and dig the ball out. If you’re in a shaved area around the green and your ball is sitting down on some dead or thin grass, it could be tough to hit a normal pitch with a sand wedge. The thin lie makes the margin for error very low. A better play may be to hit a shot with an 8 or 9 iron and even use the putter. Regardless of the situation, make your first priority around the green to judge the lie. From there you can pick a club that will lead to more success.

Focus on Where to Land the Ball

  If there’s one thing that good short game players do better than poor short game players, it would the awareness of where to land the ball. Picking a landing spot, and then deciding how much it will roll afterwards makes it much easier to judge. Getting the ball close with chip and pitch shots requires a combination of carry and roll. The more you can understand and merry those 2 together, the easier it will be. When picking a club think about how high the club will make the ball go and how much the ball will roll after it hits the green. From there you can determine where to land the ball. It may take a little practice to get the hang of picking a landing spot. However, after a short time, you will become better at hitting the spots and better at getting your short shots close.

Keep Your Options Simple

  Good short game players can use a variety of clubs. In fact Phil Mickeslon could probably get up and down with any club in his bag. Unfortunately you probably don’t have the same skills as Phil Mickelson. When it come stop hitting shots around the greens, the less choices you have to make the easier it should be. If you find yourself trying to decide between a 7, 8, or 9 iron to chip with, you’re making it too difficult. A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to 3 clubs. This takes away a lot of the back and forth and second guessing of club selection. I personally only use my 9 iron, sand wedge, and lob wedge for shots around the greens. Depending on the makeup of your bag, you could stick to the 8 iron, pitching wedge, and sand wedge, or any other 3 club variation. Often times less is more and around the greens is one of those times. Reduce the number of clubs you use and the decision making process will become easier.  

Clay Hood is PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at

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Control Your Distance Better When Hitting Chip Shots

  Watching professional golfers hit chip shots is a great thing. It always seems like they have the perfect distance control. This leads to more up and downs, fewer bogeys, and hence, the reason they are on TV. If you could have better distance control when chipping, you would see better results on the course as well. In order to get there let’s take a look at what determines how far your chip shots travel and how you can improve it.

What determines distance?

Solidness of Contact

  If you hit one shot solid, one shot fat, and one shot thin, all three shots are going travel different distances. How solid the contact you make is the biggest factor in distance control for chip shots.

How Much Loft is Used?

  This actually is more complex than it sounds. It should be obvious that using a club with more loft will produce a higher shot that will travel less distance than a club with less loft. The thing that is less obvious is that a lot of players lean the club forward or close the face which takes loft off of the club. This makes the golf ball travel further.

Speed of the Swing

  Simple physics say that the faster the club moves the further the ball will go. It’s very common to see swings that are way too big or small when hitting chip shots.

Now we know what determines distance, let’s improve it.

How to Make Solid Contact

  The biggest key to making solid contact is to get the clubhead to hit the ground in the same place each time without digging. It sounds complex but it’s really not that difficult. If the clubhead contacts the ground and you position the ball correctly you’ll hit a solid chip shot. To improve on this focus on setting your hands a few inches ahead of the ball at setup, making a swing with a slight wrist hinge, and feeling your mid-section rotate towards the target. Take 20 practice swings with this feeling and feel the clubhead “thump” the ground each time. After the practice swings add in a golf ball and you’ll see more solid contact.

How to use Consistent Loft

  The first part of using consistent loft is using clubs around the greens that you have practiced with and know how far they go. To make this easier reduce the number of clubs you use around the green. Sticking to the sand wedge, pitching wedge, and 8 iron makes your decisions much easier. The second part of consistent loft is not leaning the shaft of the club too far forward. A lot of golfers want to do this and end up hitting down too much. This takes the loft off the club and can also lead to the clubhead digging into the ground. Set your hands just a few inches ahead of the golf ball and distance control will be more consistent.

How to have Consistent Swing Speed

  The key to having consistent speed on your chip shot swings is to swing with balance and good tempo. This means that the backswing and the follow through should be similar sized. A lot of players make big backswing with very short follow through or vice-versa. This makes distance control difficult. Make 20-30 practice swings and focus on having both sides of the swing be the same size. The swing should also have good tempo and smooth movement. There should be no jagged or quick movements. Once you get the feel with the practice swings add a ball and maintain that good balance and tempo. Spend some time working on these three areas and your distance control will be much more consistent.  

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at

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An Easier Way to Play the Flop Shot

  You watch plenty of golf on TV. I’m sure you’ve seen and been amazed by players like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods hitting those full swing, open face, super high flop shots. They look awesome and the results are usually amazing for those guys. Now let’s think about your golf game. You’ve short sided yourself, there isn’t much green to work with, and you’ve got a bunker between you and the hole. So you think you’ll try a flop shot like the pros on TV hit. There’s one problem; you don’t have the same amount of talent as they do. You probably see very mixed results. One time you chunk the shot in the bunker. The next you catch it a little thin and hit it over the green. You may see a few decent shots but not on the consistent basis to have confidence in what you’re doing. The good news is that there is a better way to hit this shot. A more consistent, easier way that doesn’t require as much timing or hand action. Here is how to hit the flop shot with better results:

A More Conservative Setup

  The typical setup for a flop shot would consist of a wide stance, a very open stance, a very open clubface, the ball well forward, and a sitting or squatting motion with the body. A better way, a more conservative way to setup is as follows: • Stance slightly wider than shoulder width • Stance slightly open to the target • Weight evenly distributed over the feet • Club slightly open to the target • Ball positioned even with the left armpit This is a setup that will make it easier to hit solid shots and control your distance.

Don’t Make a Huge Swing

  The reason you see tour players make a huge swing with flop shots is that the harder you hit a ball, the higher it can potentially go. The other side of this coin is that the harder you hit a ball, the higher the chances of a mishit become. A better way to go is to make only as much swing as you need to move the ball the correct distance. There’s no magic answer to how big of a swing produces a certain distance shot, but you definitely don’t need a huge swing around the greens. Experiment with some medium sized swings and get a feel for how far the shot travels using your new setup. You’ll see that with a more reasonable swing, the chances of good contact become much higher.

There’s No Need to Flip the Wrists

  You may see a pro flipping their wrists past the ball when hitting the flop shot. This works for them because they have really good timing and it helps to add loft to the club by sliding it under the ball. This should be a big no-no for you because it raises the difficulty level to a 10. If you’re trying to flip your wrists and slide the club under the ball you are going to see a lot of mis-hits. It’s also going to be really difficult to judge how far the ball travels. A better way is to have the feeling of the hands slightly leading the clubhead at impact and the bottom of your wedge thumping the ground. By leading with your hands you will ensure that the clubface stays open through impact. It’s this open clubface that produces the height on the shot. Feeling the bottom of the wedge thump the ground helps with solid contact. It’s solid contact that makes it much easier to control how far the ball travels. To recap, if you want a simpler way to hit the flop shot use a more conservative setup, make a smaller swing, and let the hands lead the clubhead through impact. The will produce the results you are looking for on a much more consistent basis.    

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at

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3 Ways to Better Bunker Shots on the Golf Course

It looks so easy right? You see a pro playing golf on TV and he hops in the sand, takes an effortless swing, and hits his bunker shot 2 feet from the hole. You think to yourself “I should be able to do that”. You then proceed to step in the sand, take a violent lash at the ball, and watch it stay in the bunker or even worse, fly across the green at 100 mph right past your friends head. So what gives? Why aren’t you hitting those nice sand shots right by the hole? The answer is you need a slight adjustment in the way you approach the shot. Bunker shots can intimidating but they don’t have to be. Here are 3 simple tips you can use to hit better shots from the sand:

Check Your Ball Position

  Most of us know that when hitting a greenside bunker shot you hit the sand first, which in turn moves the ball out of the bunker. The distance you hit behind the ball is debatable but anywhere from 2-5 inches depending on the player and type of sand will work. In order to achieve this, the ball must be correctly positioned in relation to your body. The proper ball position for a bunker shot is even with the left (forward) arm pit. This allows the club head to enter the sand just before the bottom of the swing. This will result in the club hitting slightly behind the ball and solid bunker shots. If the golf ball is positioned too far back in the stance the club will tend to dig into the sand. If the golf ball is positioned too far forward the will be coming up and it will be easy to hit behind the ball of catch it very thin. Put down an alignment stick or club to make sure your ball is positioned even with the left arm pit.

Don’t Make the Sand the Target

  The biggest phobia in the sand for most golfers is the fear of sculling the shot and seeing it fly across the green. Because of this fear, golfers make hitting the sand their only goal. This usually results in the club digging into the sand and inconsistent shots. When hitting a bunker shot the target is the where you’re trying to hit the ball, not the sand. Take practice swings and feel the golf club swinging through the sand and through to the target. You’ll find when doing this the golf club thumps the sand instead of digging. This swinging through the shot and the thump are what produce solid bunker shots.

Make a Big Enough Swing

  For the most part the bunker shot is the only shot where the golf club doesn’t make contact with the ball. The club hits the sand and the sand in turn moves the ball out of the bunker. Because of this the energy transferred to the golf ball is reduced. Simply said, a bunker shot will not go as far as a regular shot because of the sand. To account for this you have to make a bigger swing in the sand. This should be common sense but many golfers make small swings and expect good results with their bunker shots. Watch any professional golfer on TV and you’ll see them take a much larger than normal swing for even a short bunker shot. Take some practice swings in the sand and feel the bigger golf swing and feel the club finishing through the swing. This extra speed you create with a bigger swing will easily move the ball out of the bunker and onto the green. So to recap, if you want to hit better bunker shots check your ball position, don’t make the sand the target, and make a bigger swing. Do these things and you will have more success in the sand.     Clay Hood is PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at
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