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Golf Shots You Need To Compete

golfshotsThe fastest way to lower your handicap is to improve your short game. Here, the five shots to master.

There are four universal truths in golf: Hitting long drives is terrific fun, mere fun gets old, true satisfaction comes from beating your last score, and the best way to beat your score is to have a solid short game. Period. Working on your short game game will deliver the biggest payoff (in strokes if not if not dollars). “Everyone has the capability to be good around the greens,” says Lynn Marriott, a teaching pro at top golf school Arizona State University‘s course in Phoenix. “The short game makes up more than 50 percent of an average golfer’s strokes per round, so improving it will cut strokes–fast.” Here, several top coaches offer advice for the five main shots on and around the green, Stop staring at your big slick. Break out the wedges and putter, and get to work.


Sand shots strike fear into the heart of the average golfer, but they’re easy once you understand the technique. Mike Adams, director of instruction at PGA National, has three words of advice: “Face, base and pace.” 1) Open the face: the shorter the shot, the more open the clubface. 2) Adjust your base (stance) so that the clubface points at the target. 3) Make a three-fourths to full swing, focusing on pace for distance control.


You’re five to 30 yards from the green, but there isn’t much room for the ball to roll, so you need to get it in the air and land it softly. Derek Hardy, former coach to LPGA pro Beth Daniel, suggests opening the face slightly. “Swing your arms back and through as you would for a standard pitch, but hit the ball toward the toe of the clubface. The ball will come off `dead’ and land softly.” Also: Practice pitch shots with a metronome to develop consistent rhythm.


How successful you are from eight feet will determine whether you rip up your scorecard or frame it. Patti McGowan, director of training at the David Leadbetter Academy, suggests trying Karrie Webb’s cross-handed grip, in which the left hand is below the right. “The position levels the shoulders and straightens the spine, balancing the stance and keeping the putter square throughout a solid, pendulum-like motion.”


From outside 30 feet, you’re not looking to make the putt, but to get it within three feet of the hole. “Speed and distance are key to long putts more than direction or your line to the hole,” says Patti McGowan. “Add a little wrist action to your standard putter stroke to get more momentum with less effort. Using your wrists on long putts will help generate clubhead speed while actually helping keep the stroke more compact.”


Most shots from just off the green are short and totally makeable–but you need precision. Instructor Lynn Marriott suggests you hold your short iron or wedge so that the shaft is vertical and the heel of the club is in the air. Stand with your eyes over the ball as if you were putting, so you have a better view of the line. Play the ball back in your stance and take a short back swing and an equal follow-through. Use the same length of stroke for every chip. When you need more distance, take more club.”

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