PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Short Game

Teaching feel to tour players: Peter Jacobsen

By Stan Utley Photos by J.D. Cuban
November 05, 2007

Peter and I started working together in 2003, and I noticed right away that he had a lot of shoulder tilt -- his right shoulder dramatically lower than his left--in his swing while putting and chipping. That tilt makes the club work up and down instead of the more around-and-shallow path I like to see. When the club works up and down, you've got to have perfect timing to hit the ball solidly. I wanted Peter to hit these shots with his beltline and shoulder a little more level. Your shoulders do get more tilted on a full swing, but for shots as small as these, they need to stay more level.

Once we started working on this, he commented about how similar it was to what he was doing with Jim Hardy on his full swing -- one plane instead of two, as seen in the May issue of Golf Digest. Once he felt the club work around his body and stay connected to his pivot, he improved very quickly. He hit a perfect pitch from the rough to get up and down for par on the 15th hole at the 2003 Greater Hartford Open--a shot he said won the tournament for him. It would have been much harder for him to hit that shot with his old technique.

Square your stance
I like a player to set up square to the target line for most shots. With the feet square to that line and the ball centered or ahead of middle, it's much easier for the club to swing back on plane. If you set up open to the target line and the ball is back, you'll tend to take the club back outside and close the face. Golf is action-reaction--I never want to be manipulating the face from closed to open on the way to impact.