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Golf Today > Tuition > Short Game > Rough Justice

Rough Justice
by Johnathon Yarwood

Tour players spend most of their time off the course working on developing their short-game skills - and not always from a perfect lie on the fairway.

 



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Miss a green and you never quite know what sort of lie to expect, and so the smart players test themselves from all sorts of situations, and figure out the specific technique they need to get a ball up and down from pretty much anywhere.

So let me share with you some tour secrets that can help you to extend the versatility of your short-game with a look at how to take the ball cleanly from fluffy grass, how to get the clubhead beneath the ball for height and control from longer stuff and even how to play a controlled high shot from the jungle.

Oh, and a useful shot with the ever-trusty hybrid.

As ever, imagination is the mother of invention...

Wide, U-shaped stroke 'collects' the ball

Let's look first at a common scenario: you have missed the green by a matter of a few feet and find your ball sitting atop fluffy grass. It's a perfect lie for smashing a driver,or a fairway wood, but how do you go about playing a delicate chip shot that gets you the clean contact you need to control the flight and landing speed of the ball on the green?

From this type of lie,when the ball is sitting 'up', there's always that danger of catching it off the top of the clubface,which deadens impact. So you need a technique that guarantees a clean and precise strike. This is what you do:go down the shaft of whatever club you need to give you the desired loft-and-roll combination,and then,as you create your set-up, sit the club up on its toe a little.

Stand almost as you would to putt - here I'm even using my regular putting grip. With your feet together, alignment slightly open to the flag, you want to feel that your arms hang comfortably close to your body,while your weight just eases towards the front foot. Play the ball from middle to back in your stance (experiment), so that your hands are slightly ahead,with the shaft leaning gently to the target.

From here, it's a relatively simple case of working the upper body, arms, hands and club as one unit. There's little wrist action to speak of, and a natural U-shaped swing collects the ball.

How to play a 'pop-up' when the ball is sitting down

So, you find your ball just a few yards off the edge of the green, but sitting down a little in fluffy rough.The pin is just a few paces onto the green, and so you need to get the ball up pretty quickly and have it land and stop softly within a relatively short area - not easy out of this sort of rough.

Well, here's the solution. Take your sand iron or lob wedge, and as you set up with the ball more or less in the centre of your stance, 'soften' your left hand and wrist so you create this distinct 'cup' shape.

This will assist you in keeping the clubface open throughout the swing and - more to the point - returning it in that open position so that it slides beneath the ball through impact.

There's a certain flowing quality that is vital to this swing, and this is something you must work to engender through what I would term a 'fluid' wrist action. The hands and forearms must be 'soft' so the club is encouraged to release quite early on the way down and on up into the follow through.

Another tip will further help you here: as you release the club through the grass, you actually want to feel as though your hands and the handle of the club are slowing down,while the clubhead itself is accelerating.

The net effect of this will be that you have a real sense of the right hand releasing underneath the left, which I hope you get a good impression of from the sequence towards the camera.

Look at the way the palm of the right hand pretty much mirrors the clubface as it is released - that is what guarantees the maximum loft is in play as you swing through the grass.

Another point to note is that the wrists hinge up freely into the follow-through,while the ball pops up softly and will land and stop fairly quickly, even though you are playing from the rough. Work on length of your swing to control distance.

Soft pop-up from a jungle lie - it is possible!

A typical reaction to finding your ball in this type of hay is to think you have no option but to take a hack and hope for the best. But a tour player will take an entirely different view.

Because there is an advanced technique that enables you to slide the clubface beneath the ball and have it come up soft. The key,with a sand iron or utility wedge is in the way you initially set up to the shot, the the open clubface preset in the delivery position.

The way the shaft is angled away from the target line is important; when you return the club into this position on the downswing, effectively with the heel leading, you are able to cut through the grass more easily on the way to impact.

Set in the open position, the heel of the club 'scythes through the long grass before the final release of the right hand in that split-second before impact squares up the leading edge, enabling you to pull the clubface under the ball.

So, to recap:

(1)At the set up, you want a fairly open stance, your weight favouring your left side.

(2) Preset that open face, turning your wrists and the clubshaft to the right until the shaft is almost parallel with the line across your toes.This is your starting position (I would always recommend gripping down on the club for any sort of trouble shot, as that immediately gives you a better feel for the clubhead).

(3)Your weight remains on the left side as you then complete your backswing, with a full hingeing of the wrists.

(4) Return to that preset position on the way back down, cutting through the grass before releasing the right hand to add a final burst of acceleration as you pull the clubface beneath the ball.

(5) Look at the position of the right hand and the clubface at the finish.The palm of the right hand and the clubface point up towards the sky,which confirms you have maintained an open face through the impact area.

Delivering the verdict: These sequence show that- in the final frames into impact - the open clubface is squared up by the right hand as it swings down, across and beneath the ball. Having pre-set the clubface in a fairly open position at address, this releasing of the right hand is the key, as it is that action which accelerates the open face all the way through the hitting area

Hybrid to the Rescue!

 

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