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Cover Story: Golf Instruction

Do's & Don'ts of the Short Game

October 2011
Luke Donald

BIO: Luke Donald became No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking in May. He has four wins on the PGA Tour and through July was top 10 in 16 short-game and putting stats.

Like a lot of you, I used to think that to get better I needed more distance. In 2006, my game was pretty sharp—I had 10 top 10s in 18 events—but I went out the next year trying to hit the ball harder and got my swing into a bad groove. I started missing more greens and had to rely on my chipping and pitching. That became my new reality.

After a while I stopped obsessing over power, and my game from tee to green really rebounded. That's when everything started to come together. Because of the work I'd put into my short game, I had more shots and more confidence to save par when I did miss a green. But I needed that little distance detour to realize the importance of getting up and down.

Here I'll show you the short-game concepts I practice with my coach, Pat Goss. He always thought I was long enough to be No. 1 in the world, but only recently did I start believing him.

Luke Donald


Accelerate to the ball, and finish low

What you'll hear me say a lot here is that pure contact is my No. 1 goal. You just can't hit it sloppy around the green and get away with it for long. With chipping, I set up to make a downward strike: I play the ball slightly back in my stance, move my weight a touch left, and lean the shaft toward the target. Then I keep my wrists firm on the backswing and accelerate the clubhead to the ball, not through the ball. I'm not looking to sweep this shot off the turf. I want to make a crisp, downward hit, keeping the clubhead low in the finish (left).
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