Course management is a topic I usually reserve for the more experienced students taking my golf lessons. They have a good grasp of the mechanics of hitting a ball and come to me looking for tips beyond swing faults and basic golf instruction. Among the topics when I do discuss course management during a golf lesson is dealing with a short-sided position relative to the pin.
Specifically, what we mean here is that if the pin is, let’s say, 5 feet from the left side of the green and you miss to the right side. You are basically short-sided and in jail. The best approach with a short-sided position is to try to try to avoid it all together. Landing on the short side of a pin that’s close to the green’s fringe leaves you a really challenging shot. Usually, the lie costs you an extra stroke or two before you can hole out. That’s because there’s several factors working against you on the short side. Here’s the problem:
Most golf courses these days are in good shape. The grass around the greens is usually lush and moist, making it hard to put backspin on the ball when you hit it. The lack of backspin makes it difficult to control the ball once it hits the ground. Sometimes, it’s all you can do just to get out of the grass.
Adding to the problem is the green’s condition. Most of the greens these days are firm and fast, which means a ball with no backspin will really roll once it hits the green. That’s especially true if the green is slanted away from the pin. In that case the ball might just keep rolling off the green.
The best solution then is to avoid getting short sided. If you do happen to get in this position though, here are three golf tips for dealing with this situation.
1. If the flag is tight against the left-hand side of the green, play the ball back half an inch further than normal. This position reduces your chances of hitting to the left.
2. If the flag is to the right of the green, play the ball a half-inch forward from where you usually position it in your stance, promoting your chances of hitting the ball to the left.
3. Either way, make an emphatic weight shift on the downswing, which is important to starting the ball on line.
Keep these golf tips in mind when you’re hitting to the green and chances are you’ll end up on the short side a lot less often. But even the most advance players end up on the short side now and again. So what do you do if you find yourself on that side of the green, especially if there’s an obstacle between you and the hole?
What you need is a soft floating type of shot. But with an obstacle in the way you can’t be tentative, especially if it’s a bunker. Ideally, you’d hit the shot with a lob wedge. But not every player carries one. The solution: use a sand wedge but open the clubface and swing faster.
Set up as you normally do for a pitch shot, but aim a few degrees left of target to compensate for the open clubface angle. Since the shot will be higher and shorter, you can swing more aggressively, instead of trying to hit perfectly. This will reduce your tendency to decelerate and come up short of your target.
The key to the shot, though, is the lie. If the grass isn’t fluffy enough, the open clubface won’t be able to get under the ball. So make sure there’s enough grass for you to pull the shot off. Here’s a drill that will help you practice the shot:
Open Clubface Drill
Use your sand wedge or your lob wedge. Place the club on the ground so it is 5 degrees open. First turn the blade open, then grip the club. Hit five normal pitch shots with the clubface square to the target. Now open the clubface another 5 degrees and hit some additional balls. You’ll notice that as you open the clubface more and more, the flight of the balls will be higher, shorter, and right of your target. Practice this drill teaches you to trust the effect of an open clubface versus a square clubface.
Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book "How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros . " He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips , golf lessons and golf instruction .