Pitching To A Short-Sided Pin
Photo illustration by John Ritter
Earlier this year I was struggling with my consistency on short shots around the green like you see me hitting here. My contact wasn't great. Then one day at the Farmers Insurance Open, my coach, Sean Foley, was demo-ing the right way to hit them. He has some tattoos on the inside of his right forearm, and I noticed how they stayed skyward as he swung through the grass. One thing I was doing wrong was rolling my right forearm over too much and shutting the clubface. This was making my contact unpredictable. So when it was time to hit these shots during the tournament, I kept picturing Sean's tattoos in my mind trying to feel like I was keeping an imaginary tattoo on my right forearm facing up.
One thing I really liked about that imagery was it helped me keep the clubface open and take advantage of the bounce of the sole on my wedge. Wedge shots are a lot easier if you let the club slide along the grass on a shallow angle, rather than chopping down on the ball. The tattoo trick made my swing a little shallower, and I could be a bit more aggressive because I knew contact with the ball was going to be clean.
"The last thing you want to do is chop down on the ball."
Back to this short-sided shot I had at Torrey. When the pin is close to the edge of the green you're playing from and you've got a little cushion of grass, try to put some zip on the ball to make it stop quickly once it lands. By holding off the rotation of my right arm, I can add some real speed to my swing. The added loft from the open clubface and the extra spin it puts on the ball makes it easier to get it close to the hole. You still need your hands involved with a feel shot like this, but you want them synced with the rotation of your body as you turn toward the target. If you keep those tattoos skyward, you'll make better contact and have a real chance at getting up and down. —With Ashley Mayo
Justin Rose ranks 11th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained/around the green.