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
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?
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.
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
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
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
(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
(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!