Golf Digest SchoolsFebruary 20, 2018

Want a more consistent short game? Simplify your setup

At some point when receiving short game advice, you’ve probably been told to play the ball back in your stance and lean the shaft forward. You can see that setup in the photo above. It's the most popular short game fix you'll hear, but teacher Claude Harmon III says this approach poses problems for most average golfers.

“By doing that, you’re delofting the club,” says Claude Harmon III who is 12th on our list of the 50 Best Teachers in America and the son of Butch Harmon. “It’s great for hitting that low, runner. But if you have to get the ball in the air, your weight is going to have to go back and you’re going to get that dreaded scoop. Or you’re going to hit a thin shot.”

If you want more consistency in your short game, Harmon says you should simplify your setup. Play the ball more centered in your stance and lean the handle forward only slightly. This puts the clubhead in a much more neutral position, like the photo below.

Harmon shares a bit of advice Tiger Woods once told him: When you set up, look at the angle the clubface is resting at: that’s the same angle you want the clubface to be when you’re back at impact. It’s going to be easy to deliver the club back to that position if you’re addressing the ball in this more neutral setup.


By making this small change, you’ll hit higher, softer shots with more consistency. And when you to want to hit a lower shot, just use a lower-lofted club instead of trying to deloft your favorite wedge. Since it's a simpler system, your performance around the greens will improve rapidly.

If this tip helped you and you want some more instruction from Claude Harmon, check out the full video series we did with him: 5 Ingredients to Great Golf. In this series, Harmon gives you lessons on the five things your game needs, allowing you to cut through the confusion of golf instruction and focus on just a few key moves. Harmon coaches you through everything from how to get more clubhead speed with your driver to learning better touch in your short game.

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