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Loft, but less spin

Patrick Cantlay's crafty toe-draw chip shot—here's how it works

August 14, 2023
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Patrick Cantlay didn't win the FedEx Cup St. Jude Championship, but you don't get much closer than losing in a playoff to the most in-form player in golf, Lucas Glover.

But while Cantlay's story had a sad ending on this occasion, we want to focus on the positive. Specifically, his chip on the 10th hole.

Greenside in two shots on the long par 4, Cantlay took out a wedge and nudged his ball onto the green and watched as it trundled up into the hole. He gained almost an entire stroke on the field with one small swing of the club and it spurred Cantlay's run up the leaderboard.

This wasn't just a good shot, though. It was also an interesting shot. A clever one, that the rest of us can learn a lot from. So, let's break it down.

Cantlay looks like he sets up to the ball with the ball back in his stance, and the shaft leaning forward slightly. But the most important thing you'll notice is how he sets up with the ball more on the toe of his club. That's important, as we're about to see ...

As Cantlay swings through, you can see him impact the ball on the toe of his clubface. That does two important things:

  • It deadens the shot, so the ball doesn't come out as hot.
  • It reduces backspin, so that when the ball lands, it starts rolling.

The camera angle isn't great here, but you can also see Cantlay is also swinging slightly from in-to-out, and that the clubface is a little closed to his target. He's effectively hitting a miniature draw shot here, which is why you see his club track out to the right, but the ball jumps left almost immediately off the clubface.

This further reduces the amount of backspin on the ball.

If Cantlay had taken a lower-lofted club and hit a conventional bump-and-run, he could've potentially hit this delicate shot too hard, and sent it running past the hole. But if he didn't take measures to reduce the amount of backspin, his higher-lofted wedge would've grabbed the turf too soon and stopped short of the hole.

The spin-reducing moves paired with the higher-lofted wedge gives him the best of both. The ball lands on the fringe but has just enough horsepower to jump forward through it, then begin rolling like a putt.

It's clever shot, but not a complicated one. Keep it in mind for the next time you're greenside with a little green to work with.