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


Contact suffers when the shoulders lead

In theory, the shoulder-driven stroke makes sense: It's like the pendulum of a clock. But in practice, it's not reliable. For one thing, the stroke gets too long on lag putts, which makes it harder to hit the ball flush. And when the shoulders dominate, the head tends to tilt to the right on the backstroke and to the left on the through-stroke (left). That changes the loft on the face, decreasing it going back and increasing it through impact. The result is poor contact and a lack of control. So putt with your arms, and you'll roll it with confidence.
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