PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Short Game

Two Simple Adjustments To Hit Great Short-Game Shots

The standard operating procedure on chips and pitches is to set up open to your target and swing the club down and left through impact. You can hit the ball solidly this way, but it’s tough to control the trajectory and direction without a lot of practice.

An easier and more reliable way to hit these shots is from a square stance. That means your toes, hips and shoulders should be aligned parallel left of your target. Put a little more weight on your left leg than your right, and make sure your shoulders are fairly level. The ball should be centered between your feet for a medium-trajectory shot; a little more forward if you want to hit it higher.

When you swing, focus on moving the clubhead toward the target (above). A helpful visual is to imagine you’re tossing the ball underhand. You wouldn’t throw it left of your target. You’d go directly at it. That’s all there is to this technique.

Brandon Stooksbury teaches at Idle Hour Club in Macon, Ga.


If you’re chipping off a soft surface such as pine straw, you need to use a club with less loft than a sand wedge or lob wedge for better contact. Grab a 9-iron, open the face a little before gripping the club, and play the ball forward of center in your stance but with the shaft leaning back slightly. Then make a chipping stroke. You’ll hit the ball more solidly with the 9, and the setup and open face will get the ball airborne. – Jason Sedan, Lake Winnipesaukee G.C., New Durham, N.H.

The torso is the engine in your short game, so make sure you drive your sternum toward the target when you swing. Keep it moving. Hold your finish to check if you turned enough. – Jarut Padung, World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Fla.

Don’t forget to factor the rollout into your aim. Instead of focusing on the hole, stare at the spot where you think the ball has to land to roll pin-high. Use a towel or tee to indicate that spot when you practice. This will get you used to looking at an intermediate target and help improve your feel. – Mackenzie Mack, Rogers Park G. Cse., Tampa, Fla.

When it comes to posture, pick a knee flex and keep that flex. Settle on a comfortable bend in your setup, and don’t let it change when you swing, or you risk a mis-hit. – Andrew Patnou, TPC Scottsdale