Golf Instruction

My Favorite Shots to Save Par

November 2008

One thing I've learned on tour is, the best short-game guys not only have all the shots, they know how to pick the right one at the right time. Most golfers aren't so good at picking, even though they have fewer shots. Some love to hit the full-swing lob, pulling it out every chance they get (check out my less-risky alternative below, slide no. 2). Others don't trust their touch at all, so they putt the ball from everywhere. Somewhere in between is the best approach: Rely on a handful of basic short-game shots, ranging from high to low and short to long, and get creative only when you have to. In the photo above are four of my favorites. Read below to see how I play them.

1. The Short Checker

From just off the fringe, with the green running downhill, you need a shot that lands softly, checks up and releases. Using my 60-degree wedge, I open the face slightly and play the ball off the outside of my right foot (bottom photo). Playing it back guarantees a descending blow for solid contact, and the open face adds loft and spin. The swing is a simple arm motion back and through—no wrist hinge. Land it on the green, and it'll grab on the second bounce and creep down to the hole.

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