Most amateurs I play with understand the fundamentals of pitching and chipping. They know to set up in a slightly open stance and to favor the front foot. They know they should accelerate through impact and let the loft on the clubface provide the height and spin they need to stop the ball close. They understand all of this, yet they still hit some really bad short-game shots. Why? I think it's because they get caught up in trying to control the distance the ball goes without really knowing how to do it. On short shots, they decelerate and dump it. On longer ones, they swing too wildly and skull it. Assuming your technique is fairly sound, I'm going to give you my blueprint for distance control around the greens. Hit these shots pin high, and you'll score better than ever. —With Ron Kaspriske
CHIPPING: KEEP THE HANDLE CENTERED
Chip with a 56- degree wedge, especially out of the rough. You'll catch more ball on the face than you would with a lob wedge. Also, it's more versatile in terms of distance control.
Depending on the shot you want, address the ball in one of the five positions I'm showing here (above). The farther back, the lower the ball will fly and the farther it will roll. But no matter where you position the ball, the butt end of the club should be centered on your body at address. Don't lean the handle forward or back of this spot, or you risk making poor contact.
WEDGE SHOTS: VARY YOUR BACKSWING
It's too difficult to regulate distance by swinging harder or softer. Instead, develop a system of wedge distances by varying how far back you take the club (above). For example, swing your lob wedge back until your left arm is at 9 o'clock or parallel to the ground and see how far you hit the ball. Then take it back to 10 o'clock and note the distance. Finally, make a full backswing and note it again. Try to keep your swing speed and follow-through the same for each. Do this with all your wedges, and you'll be able to adapt to so many yardages. No more guesswork on short shots into the green.