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Golf Instruction

The Only 2 Shots You Need

October 2012

My sons and I have helped 20-handicappers shave five strokes in two hours, and we've helped professionals improve from the bottom 10 percent in the short-game stats to the top 10 percent over the course of a few lessons. How? By helping them see the short game differently. Most golfers play what I call "in-between" short shots on a medium trajectory with a mix of left- and right-hand action. You can hit good shots that way, but it takes a lot of finesse--and practice. We teach two simple shots to choose between for every situation: a low chip for good lies with lots of green to work with, and a high pitch for when you have a sketchier lie or no room to run the ball. Using these shots, you simplify the decision-making process. You're able to concentrate on your landing spot and target, and you'll hit more shots close to the hole.

1. LOW CHIP SHOT

low chip shot

ADDRESS (above, left)
The feet are close together and turned 45 degrees toward the target, and the weight is mostly on the lead foot. The ball position is under the right armpit, and the body posture is tall.

BACKSWING (above, right)
Pull the club straight back from the target with the back of the right hand, and feel the right wrist give slightly--not fully hinge. The hands stay low and quiet going back.

low chip shot

IMPACT (above, left)
Just as in putting, the back of the left hand leads the club toward the target. The arms are an extension of the club, and there's no hit or lift in the stroke. The ball just gets in the way.

FINISH (above, right)
Angling the feet toward the hole makes it easier to create a slight lower-body pivot in the downswing. The upper body stays quiet and is pulled through by the pivot, and the club finishes low.

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2. HIGH PITCH SHOT

high pitch shot

ADDRESS (above, left)
The feet are angled as with the low chip, but the stance is slightly wider, the knees have more flex, and the ball is just inside the shirt logo. The weight is forward, the shaft straight up and the face open.

BACKSWING (above, right)
Feel as if you're taking the club away with the thumb and index finger of the right hand, and let the clubhead's weight pull the right wrist into a full hinge. The weight is mostly on the front foot.

high pitch shot

IMPACT (above, left)
Pivot through impact, and keep the right hand moving palm up at the target while the left hand stops at its address position. It should feel like a 75-percent version of your full swing.

FINISH (above, right)
Sling the clubhead on a vertical plane directly in front of the chest, and ride the momentum to a full finish. The club finishes high and in front, not pulled around and down near the left hip.

high pitch shot

CHIP SHOT DRILL (above, left)
Get your lower body involved

If your stance is too narrow, you'll tend to be too quiet in the lower body and hang your weight back. To get the feel of moving your lower body fluidly through the shot, set up with your right heel up on a ball. This will help you pivot and move your right knee toward the target.

PITCH SHOT DRILL (above, right)
Keep your right palm up

stockton

The feel you want on a high shot is that of your right hand coming through impact with the palm facing the sky, as if you were tossing a ball in the air in front of you. Do not roll the palm over through the shot. That reduces the loft on the club, exposing the leading edge to the ground.

DAVE STOCKTON (center) is ranked No. 13 by his peers among Golf Digest's 50 Best Teachers. He and his sons, Dave Jr. (left) and Ron, coach dozens of tour players. Adapted from Unconscious Scoring: Dave Stockton's Guide to Saving Shots Around the Green by Dave Stockton with Matthew Rudy. Published by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2012 by Dave Stockton.

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