PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

Short Game

Short-sided Solution


Open-minded: Turn the clubface open, and swing aggressively to hit the ball high and land it softly.

On tour we talk about the danger of "short-siding" approach shots -- missing to the side of the green where the hole is cut close to the edge. When it happens in a greenside bunker, you have to pop the ball up quickly and stop it fast.

I faced this situation on one of my favorite holes -- the 191-yard 13th at Muirfield -- during the Senior British Open this summer. I found myself on an upslope in a deep bunker.

I opened the face of my sand wedge, lowered my right shoulder slightly and swung the club on an out-to-in path with plenty of force. I made more of a V-shape swing than the usual U-shape bunker swing. The ball came out high and soft and left me a four-foot par putt, which I made.

I wasn't carrying a 60-degree wedge, but higher-lofted wedges can be handy on shots like this. Take your most lofted wedge, and be sure to swing hard through impact and to the finish. You need clubhead speed to project the ball high and soft with spin.


On full swings, you can control and release the club better if you keep your right elbow close to your side on your backswing and your left elbow close to your side on your through-swing. Watch how baseball power hitters release the bat during the playoffs this fall, and notice the similarities between their moves through the ball and what pro golfers do.

Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. View more tips from Tom.