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Shortcuts to the green.

If you are one of those golfers who can drive a ball off the tee long and straight but still lose the game because of erratic approach shots to the green, learning a

few fundamental cures can cut your score dramatically.

The difference between a bad round and a great one very often is the short game. The ability to get up and down will save you strokes every round and is a skin anyone can master. To help you, the following pages offer a guide to the short game. First are the two building blocks, the pitch and chip, followed by two finesse shots. Three touch shots-the cut lob, bump-and-run, and long runup finish your course of study. By practicing these, you'll soon own a short game that is long on results.

THE PITCH

The pitch shot, which you'll use from roughly 20 to 75 yards off the green, is a miniature version of the full swing, made chiefly with the arms and shoulders. Holding a wedge, set up open and a little narrower than for a full shot, with your weight more on the left side. Play the ball slightly ahead of center, your hands even with it.

Swing back with the arms and hands, keeping the lower

body quiet. This is not a wristy shot

like the chip,

but your wrists must be relaxed so they

cock natu

rally. Make a smooth transition between

backswing

and downswing by letting the club come

almost to

a stop before starting down and accelerating

through

impact. As with chipping, crisp contact is

vital so

keep our head and upper body still. The

distance

the ball flies is determined by the length of

back

swing, which you can learn only through prac

ice.

THE CHIP

Think of the chip shot as an extension of the long putt, the object being to get the ball rolling on the green as quickly as possible. You'll usually chip anywhere inside 15 to 20 yards off the green (assuming the ground is relatively flat). Club selection depends on how far you have to carry the ball to land it on the edge of the green; the farther off the green you are, the more loft you need.

Whichever club you use, the mechanics are the same. Set up slightly open to the target, your feet a little closer together than for a normal short-iron shot. Bend at the waist and knees so your arms hang away ftom your body and the hands and wrists can move freely. Above all, your stance should be comfortable; otherwise, you won't make a flowing, natural swing.

Play the ball at or just slightly inside the left heel with your hands on line with it. Choke down almost to the shaft for clubhead control. To guarantee consistent, solid contact, keep the lower body quiet as you stroke with the arms. Hinge the wrists so the clubface opens on the backswing. Coming down, the wrists hinge forward through impact. With practice, you'll gain feel for the right amount of wrist cock for shots of all distances.

DOWNHILL CHIP

Hitting along a downslope delofts the club, so once you select the right club for the distance, open the clubface; the steeper the slope, the more you open the blade. Play the ball well back in your stance with your hands well ahead, ensuring you make contact early in the downswing.

Go back to the basic chip stroke, but don't over-hinge the wrists or you'll nick the club at the ball and top it. Swing back to about kneeheight and control the action with your arms; then let the hands lead the clubface through impact.

UPHILL LIE

Start with the ball well forward in your stance so you hit it on the upswing. The lower body must remain still during the swing to help you maintain balance; to accomplish this, put the majority of your weight on the left foot and keep it there.

Make a short backswing and let the right wrist cock a bit as you start back. On the downswing, think of the right hand taking over, pulling the club through. If the ball is close to the green and you just need to pop it up and out, hit a little behind the ball.

Hitting up a slope adds to a club's loft, so take one club more-e.g., a 9-iron instead of a wedge-than what the distance dictates.

CUT LOB

You need to get up and down from 30 yards off the green, but a large bunker sits between you and the pin, which is cut close to the sand. You need a high pitch shot that drops next to the flag and stops there: the Cut Lob.

Set up as you would for a normal pitch; then open both the stance and the wedge a little more. The object is to cut under the ball, the open clubface lofting it high, so pick the club up quickly by immediately breaking the wrists; then slice the open blade under the ball, keeping the left wrist stiff through impact and the clubface open. Obviously, the ball must be sitting up enough so that you can slide the club under it; don't try the cut lob from a tight lie. More important, be aggressive: don't decelerate through the ball. You'll either skull it over the green or hit it fat-and into the trap.

BUMP-AND-RUN

You're off the green, a bank looms between your ball and the putting surface, and the pin is close to the near edge. You can try popping a delicate wedge shot just over the bank and hope it stops next to the hole, but it's a tough shot because the landing area is so small. The more intelligent tack is to take a mid-iron (say 4- to 7-) and "bump" a low shot into the hill so it bounces over the top and rolls onto the surface and to the hole.

The shot is a variation of the basic chip-same setup and stroke-but with a little more arm action. Aim for a spot on the bank where you want the ball to hit, and don't be shy; most players hit so soft the ball never gets over the hill. But guard against the other extreme: blasting the ball over the rise to the far side of the green.

LONG RUN-up

The ball could be as much as 20 yards short of the green, but the terrain is flat. Or you're just off the lower level of a two-tiered green with the pin set on top. In either case, hit a long, low running shot.

Set up as you would for a normal chip, but instead of starting with your hands even with the ball, lean them forward. This delofts the club, so the ball flies lower than normal. Take the club back low and pull it through with both hands, keeping the hands ahead of the clubface. The ball will fly lower and faster than usual and run farther. Experiment with different clubs-mostly mid-irons-for different distances. -by the editors of Golf magazine
COPYRIGHT 1988 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:golf approach shots
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Sep 1, 1988
Words:1186
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