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The Spectacular Lob Shot
Trevor Immelman

At Augusta this year, I watched Jose Maria Olazabal hitting these lob shots off tightly cut grass. He was taking a full swing, and the ball was just popping up so beautifully.

Eventually I just plucked up the guts and said: 'How the hell do you do that?'Ollie gave away bits of information slowly but surely. I went to try and do what he told me, and after about 10 minutes I was hitting the shot pretty good. It's tough, but you can do it. What struck me most was just how open both he and the clubface were at the set-up, as I am demonstrating here. Ollie opened up the clubface until it was lying pretty much flat on the ground. He had the ball way forward in his stance, and I noticed that he played it right out of the heel of the wedge.

Once he was comfortable, he then made this wonderful full swing on the line of his toes and the ball popped up like it was in slow motion...

Clearly, you need a few things to be in your favour before you even think about playing this type of shot. First of all, you've got to feel confident. Second, a little bit of an upslope would help - if it's on a downslope forget it. Third, you need a pretty decent lie. If the ball is on hardpan or sitting in a slight depression you have to adjust your thinking; I'd be playing a regular chip shot and take my chances on holing the 10- or 15- footer left.

Minimize bounce, maximize loft...
The back of the sole of my sand iron has been ground down a little to remove some of the bounce, so when I open it up the leading edge is not that far raised up from the ground. Its sits quite flush. That helps. I don't want to be trying this shot with a club that has a high degree of bounce, and neither do you!

Before I go ahead and play this (see over), let me stress that while this is is a shot you might play once in a blue moon during a tournament, practicing it does wonders for your confidence and also for your general wedge and bunker play.

To get this spot on, you have to have total control of the delivery of the clubhead. And the better you get that, the better your short game generally.

As I watched Ollie at Augusta, I noticed that he didn't employ much wrist break - in that regard he played this shot with the same 'scything' sort of action that Nick Faldo once showed me out of thick rough. Ollie really keeps his wrists passive, and that's the key to playing this successfully. With relatively stiff wrists you get the same 'low point' on every swing. I sense that I hinge my wrists a fraction (but only a natural flexing as I reach the top of the backswing) and then I release it all through impact. You really do have to get aggressive. With that much loft in play, you need to swing the clubhead fast to get the ball going forward.

Key Points

- Set your body line way left of the target line
- Play the ball way forward - that helps the elevation
- Make sure you have room for your arms to swing. A sense that you are 'reaching' fractionally for the ball helps
- Trust in the club as you swing back and through along your body line
- Because the clubface is wide open, you really have to rip it!

Just like playing a sand shot.
Its vital that you open the clubface before you complete your grip.


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