PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Short Game

Get It To The Hole

September 08, 2013

I see a lot of golfers take a sand or lob wedge for an uphill shot around the green and come up well short of the hole. They don't consider that the hill adds loft to the wedge, so they basically hit a pop-up. Using a lob wedge might be fine if the pin is up front and you need to stop the ball in a hurry, but if the pin is deeper, use a less-lofted club.

Instead of trying to fly the ball to the hole, hit a little chip shot that carries to the front of the green and rolls to the cup (above, right). Set up with your right shoulder slightly lower than your left so you can swing with the slope—you want the club to slide along the turf, not stick into it. It will help if you keep your right knee braced inward slightly so you can shift your weight to your left side (above, left). If your weight stays back because of the hill, you'll likely hit it fat or thin.

On the ninth hole on Sunday at the 1981 Masters, my downhill chip shot from behind the green rolled all the way off the front and left me with a severely uphill pitch. I used a 9-iron to get the ball running to the hole. It stopped four feet away, and I made the putt to save bogey. It was my shot of the day, and I ended up beating Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller by two.


Distance control with chip-and-run shots comes from practice. Many of you never try this shot until you face it on the course. You'd be surprised how far the ball rolls even with the smallest of strokes. Get familiar with it.

Tom Watson, on Twitter @TomWatsonPGA, is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the captain of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.