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The Nipper
Ernie Els

What is the nipper?

I call this short pitch 'the nipper' because you nip the ball from the grass with a clean, firm, downward blow. You don't take much of a divot, if any.

The shot flies with a lower trajectory, takes one hop, then skids to a stop. It helps to use a soft-cover, high-spin ball.

Big tee shots and long birdie putts are popular with the fans, but I get more questions from my pro-am partners about my nipper than any other shot.

The nipper looks like a tour player's shot. It stays low, takes one hop and stops. I use it any¬where from 20 to 40 yards off the green. With some practice, you can use it, too.

Here's what you have to work on.

First, play the ball slightly back in your stance. Staying very stable over your legs, turn your shoulders until your arms get to waist height. Keep your left wrist firm and hit the ball first, with a fairly aggressive, descending blow.

You're turning sand-wedge loft into 9-iron loft, which makes the shot fly low and spin a lot.
The biggest mistakes average players make are using too much hand action to try to create spin and taking a big divot in an effort to hit down on the ball.

Hit the ball first and you'll create plenty of spin. I might take a little bit of grass - after I hit the ball - but nothing like the divot I would take on a full-wedge swing.

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