Short Game

My Checklist

By Ryan Palmer Photos by Matt York/AP
July 22, 2012


If you find your swing is getting away from you, try to imagine you're hitting a low-draw, knockdown shot. It will help improve your rhythm and mechanics and get you to hit solid shots. Before I won in Hawaii, I worked with my instructor Randy Smith on this motion. It helped me tighten everything up so I could control the ball in the wind. But it's a great swing thought for amateurs in any type of weather, especially if you tend to make an armsy swing and hit it out on the toe.


Randy told me to take one club more than normal, grip down an inch, and stand closer to the ball, so the shaft is slightly more vertical. Standing closer helps trap the ball between the clubface and the turf, promoting solid contact. The reason you use an 8-iron instead of a 9 is to help lower the ball flight, and you grip down to make sure you don't hit the shot too long.


I like the low-draw feel because it encourages you to make a more aggressive swing, but that doesn't mean I want you to swing harder. By aggressive, I mean there's more body action involved with this shot. Your swing speed should actually be smooth, not too fast. The slower you swing, the less backspin you'll put on the ball -- so the shot flies lower. I also allow the club to release through impact, so I know the ball is going to start rolling when it lands.


A downswing path from inside the target line is crucial to starting the ball right and drawing it back to your target. When you swing, feel that your body is rotating around your left leg as if it were a post. This gives you plenty of room to swing down into the ball from inside the target line. I also play with a stronger grip and a slightly shut clubface, which helps produce a draw, but only if my swing path is in-to-out.

Ryan Palmer has won three times on the PGA Tour. He learned to play golf in the strong winds of West Texas.