When working with students on their short games, I start by having the students toss a ball to the hole. Most students instinctively face the target, rotate their shoulders slightly and swing their arms with the ball in their hands away from the target and towards it. They release the ball on a low trajectory, use their legs and finish with more weight on their lead foot. Those who don’t use their legs and shoulders are very stiff and have little or no touch. I then have them vary the targets of the tosses to understand the parts of the body which regulate distance.
The conclusion is: the length of the arm motion and push off of the leg controls the distance. I then have the students stand sideways as they would in the set up for a chip or a pitch shot and again toss a ball to the target. Almost without exception, the students rotate their bodies towards the target using their legs and allow their arms to swing away from the target and towards it. They don’t stand stiff legged with their eyes stuck looking at a position between their feet and flip the ball with their hands.
For most of us, if you want to have “touch” in your short game, you need to use legs and be willing to rotate your shoulders or your center. On the backswing motion of these short shots, the trail leg is very stable and works as a solid base to push off of. Your center is essentially your sternum. The amount of movement of your sternum is dependent on the length of your arm swing. On the backswing, the sternum is essentially rotated in place with a little pressure against the inside of the trail foot. On the forward swing, the sternum is moved onto the lead foot and rotated to an open position to the target. The rotation of the sternum during the swing allows the club face to open, square and close to the target without manipulating with the hands. The movement of the sternum to the lead foot enables the use of the legs and a descending blow. The ball can be played in the center or forward in the stance maintaining the true loft of the club. Remember, the amount of movement of the sternum is dependent on the length of the arm motion and leg usage needed for the length of the shot.
During the PGA Championship, there was an Associated Press picture in the Seattle P. I. of Fred Funk hitting a wedge shot. The picture captures him when the ball is less than 10 feet after impact and at chest level. His eyes, head and chest are facing the target. At this point, the club is slightly past parallel to the ground with the toe of the club pointing almost straight up and the sole facing the target. I’m certain the ball landed very softly with “touch”. This picture is now on our wall to show students balance and motion in the short game.
Tip: A Square Club Face?
To hit any straight shot, be it with a driver, 7-iron, wedge or putter, we can probably agree we want the club head square to the target line at address and at impact. In baseball, the bat is only square to target for instant at impact. Yet a baseball player can hit a served up pitch wherever he wants. In tennis, the racquet squares up for just an instance at impact, yet the best players can chalk the lines with amazing accuracy. How long should a golf club be square in a golf swing? Try worrying less about taking the club back on a straight line and through on a straight line. Let the rotation of your body determine the path of the club and let the club square up at impact.
Ron Hanson, PGA Professional
Director of Instruction - Interbay Golf Center
For more help with your golf game, visit http://www.ronhansongolf.com
Ron Hanson is the Director of Instruction at Interbay Golf Center in Seattle, Washington. Through countless hours of instruction, numerous appearances at exhibitions and published articles, he is one of the most highly regarded instructors in the Pacific Northwest. Ron received national exposure on the Golf Channel as a featured instructor for an episode of The Golf Channel's Golf Makeover Challenge. He recently completed the first in a series of instructional DVD's. “Golf in Balance, Volume I" is a simple, understandable overview of the golf swing appropriate for golfers of all levels. To see more about “Golf in Balance" visit http://www.ronhansongolf.com
- Golf in Balance with Ron Hanson -