Anytime I'm hitting an approach with a short iron or wedge, I feel like it's a great opportunity to pick up a stroke. You should, too. Think of the 125-yard marker as the start of your "go zone." Don't just try to hit the green. Think about getting it close enough to make birdie or par. Here I'm going to give you some tips to help you hit quality short approaches. It's time to knock it stiff.ABOUT NICK WATNEYA five-time PGA Tour winner, Watney, 32, ranked sixth last year in greens in regulation from less than 125 yards. On average, he hit his short approach shots (50 to 125 yards) to 17 feet, five inches.
STAND CLOSER TO THE BALLI see a lot of amateurs reaching for the ball with their short irons and wedges. Their arms are stretched out so far, it becomes a challenge to hit the ball solidly.These clubs require a more vertical swing, because the shaft isn't as long as a hybrid or wood. You have to stand closer to the ball to sole the club properly. Make sure there's only a couple of inches between the handle and your thighs (bottom).To avoid hitting it fat or thin, play the ball no farther forward than middle. The shaft should lean slightly toward the target (top). You'll re-create this position at impact.
KEEP IT SHORT TO THE TOPMany of you let your swings run on too long, and there's no excuse for that with the short clubs. It doesn't take much to hit the ball 125 yards, so my advice is to stop your arm swing when your body stops turning back (bottom).Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to feel restricted. But the farther your arms go on the backswing, the harder it is to get the center of the clubface on the ball at impact.Also, keep your left arm at a consistent length--whatever it was at address. My swing arc is as wide as I can get it (top). That helps me consistently catch the ball flush.
CONTROL YOUR SPEEDYou want to stay in control of the club, letting it gradually accelerate into the ball (bottom). You don't have to kill a short approach shot, so there's no reason to really go after it.I recommend you work on two speeds. I have a full-swing speed and what I think of as a half-swing speed. I'm sure the clubhead isn't moving half as fast with the slower speed--it's just a feel thing.I focus on staying smooth on both shots, but the change of pace gives me two stock yardages for each club. As a bonus, it reminds me to swing in control.
TURN TO FACE THE TARGETYou'll notice two things about my finish position. The first is that I didn't wrap the club around my back; the club finished in front of me (top). That's a result of controlled acceleration. The swing simply ended there.The second is that my body turned through and is facing the target (bottom). Point is, even though you don't need to pound the ball, you still have to make a proper golf swing--and that includes body rotation.I see a lot of amateurs restrict the body turn and swing all-arms on these shots. If you're pulling the ball left of the green, it's a safe bet you're not turning through on these short approaches.