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Posts Tagged ‘Short Game’

Short Game Frustrations

Long on desire, short on game…at least short game that is.  Anyone else having issues with chipping and short pitches?

I like to think I have pretty darn good hand / eye coordination.  I flew helicopters in the Marines for crap sake.  But, for some reason, I find myself flinching at the chips and short pitches.  Some days on the course I see more chili dip than a Super Bowl party.  Other days, its all about the blade.  What the hell?!

I have resolved to correct this issue this spring.  I believe these short shots are a combination of technique and confidence.  As confidence wanes, it seems, technique gets adjusted until it is all lost.  I have been searching for instruction to get me back to a basic primary approach to each – chipping and short pitches.  (We all agree that there is a distinct difference here right?)

I took a lesson in Florida this past December with a young pro.  Explained all this to him and he offered me the “ball off right toe, lean the shaft to the left thigh” approach to chipping.  Nothing new here, but to be fair because of my lack of confidence, I had begun to move excessively on these short shots as well.  He helped me with some of that.  It was a good start, but I need more. (OBTW he really helped my putting set up as well.)

Paul Runyan is a renowned short game artist from years WAY past and he has some videos on YouTube worthy of review.  He has a very distinctive approach to both chipping and pitching.  I am watching them and learning – he is very good at explaining his techniques and certainly demonstrates them to perfection.

I like to watch Adam Bazalgette (Scratch Golf Academy) on YouTube for tips, he gives some great 4-5 minute instruction on all aspects of the game.  He referred to a gent in one of his videos on chipping and pitching who I am watching now – James Sieckmann.

James is Director of Instruction, Shadowridge CC in Omaha, Nebraska and is on the Titleist staff.  He teaches many tour pros on the short game and has some things to say in his videos that are very encouraging.  One was particularly instructive for me – on a Golf Channel instructional episode (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ikSZqh0s5c) – he said some things that helped a light bulb come on for me.  First thing, I have been treating these finesse shots with too much of a mechanical mindset…that is…holding too tight, too stiff, my hands too far forward, etc… He says in the video that from the backswing to essentially “let the club make its way to the ball then turn your torso”…in so many words.  That is the kind of guidance I require!  It is from this mindset that you can manufacture shot trajectory and spin for many different variations. Most instructors say something like let your arms hang loosely and hold the club with an easy grip and leave it at that.  He takes it slightly farther in this video intimating to just let the clubhead release – not a wristy flicky thing – but as a natural result of the rotation.  Eureka!

Anyway, it has been exceedingly frustrating for me to hit a good drive and a decent approach only to screw up the hole with a pitiful attempt at a chip or pitch.  Chili dip a couple and all of a sudden your entire round seems to go down hill.  Lots of work to do around the green and so far, I’ll be practicing Mr. Sieckmann’s approaches to the short game.  Maybe, if you’re in the same boat I am, give him a try.


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