Most golfers tend to overlook their short game when they practice. But, having a well rounded short game can really help lower your scores and make up for bad approach shots.
Joe is looking to improve his wedge play and is tired of hitting the ball "fat." He's not alone because I've seen first hand that many golfers have no idea how to hit consistently good pitches, chips, flop shots, or bunker shots. I'll discuss a few different reasons why you might be hitting the ball chunky, such as where your hands must always be.
I know about fat, but hitting fat shots with my lob wedge off a tight lie is really driving me nuts!
We've got to talk about setup and technique. In this case, one will often dicatate the other. For example, if you are trying to hit a flop shot but you're set up to hit a low pitch and run, you'll never hit the ball where you want. You've got to know what the shot calls for and then how to accomplish it.
If you're trying to hit more of a pitch and run type of shot, you don't want to come down steep enough to the point that you can stick the club in the ground. When Joe says he's hitting it fat, I'm assuming he's hitting behind the ball. This can be caused by coming in too steep.
To hit low shots, you have to get your weight a little more left, but your nose still has to be at the ball. You have to remain still because your nose must stay at the ball, not behind it or ahead of it. Next, you want to nip the ball off the ground and finish low.
In order to get the ball higher, you've got to decrease your forward shaft lean. When golfers get too much shaft lean, it causes a lot of chunking as well. The higher you want to hit the ball, the higher you need to finish. But, you can't start falling backwards to help the ball get up because this, again, can lead to chunks. You've got to stay in the shot.
One thing that you've always got to remember is that your top thumb must be directly under the top of your sternum. Your arms always swing back to a point directly below your sternum, so that's where they must be at setup and impact. Most golfers will set their shaft lean after they've already set their feet, so their hands are naturally going to be out in front instead of under the sternum. Some shots do call for you to use a bit of shaft lean, you've just got to remember to adjust your setup accordingly afterwards.
Since it's so important, I will say it once again. Your top thumb never gets out of line with your sternum! The next time you're out practicing, hit some chips and pitches. While you're doing this, make a mental note of where your hands are in relation to your sternum while in your setup. If they are not directly underneath, you may have just figured out why you've been hitting it fat.
Keep it vertical!
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