Simplify the short game

Pitching with touch. With Michael Breed

Hint: It's not about having great hands

By Michael Breed  

“If your clubface is closing on short shots, that’s Deadsville.”

Next time you go to the range, hit some short wedge shots, and hold your finish after each swing. Here's what I want you to look for: The clubface should point slightly upward, with the toe closer to the target line than the heel (above). That means you've kept the face square through impact, delivering enough loft to hit high, soft shots around the greens.

Many golfers flip the clubface over as they swing through, pointing it to the ground. Nothing kills short-game touch faster than a closed face. It usually happens because golfers freeze the body and swing with only the hands and arms. That might seem simpler, but turning the body in sync with the club is what prevents the face from closing.

Try this little demo. Grab a wedge, lock your body in place, and make arms-only swings. Feel how the clubface naturally flips over as it moves past you? Now add body rotation, and you'll see how it allows you to keep the face pointing up. When the face flips, it affects the ball's starting line, trajectory, distance, spin—pretty much everything that makes or breaks a short-game shot.

For starters, make sure the face is square or slightly open at address. Then, let your upper body turn as you swing. In particular, keep your chest rotating through the shot, as if your body is dragging the club into the follow-through. Look at the finish: The shaft should be angled slightly to the right, with the face pointing up. When you can hit that spot, you're ready to own the short game.

TIPS FROM THE TOP

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