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Ah yes, the Short Game. Consisting of Pitching/Chipping, Sand Play and Putting, the short game is considered the money maker, the game saver. THE aspect of Golf that, if not with you during any round, will definitely add strokes and frustrate you beyond belief. Imagine if you will, you find yourself on a 500 yard par 5, and you're just short of the green in two. That's about 450 yards in two shots, not bad, and you finish with a 6 or even a 7. That's how important the short game is. It will keep you in the game and also keep your money were it belongs, in your pocket. To be able to get 'Up and Down' from anywhere around the green is truly a great weapon to have.

So if you put just a little time into it, I guarantee that you'll shave strokes off your game and enjoy Golf a little more............. not like say............. ruining a nice walk.

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Chipping is part 'Chipping' and 'Pitching'. The difference is with a 'Pitch Shot' you have to fly the ball over a hazard in order to put the ball on the green and in the hole. With a 'Chip Shot' there is nothing between you and the hole but fairway and green, so even if you totally mishit the ball and if it was hit hard enough it's going to get on the green, in both cases the ball can be hit high or low, with spin or not, it's up to you and what works best for you.

Now 'Chipping' much like 'Putting' is very personal, and the end result can be achieved several different ways...

One is a 'relaxed' type of stroke, with the hands hanging down naturally and comfortably, with an easy swing letting the hands hinge and the clubhead release with some firmness in the wrists through impact. Basically letting the 'Loft' of the club get the ball airborne and on the green. Let the club do the work, it's designed too, you don't hit the ball the club does.

The other is with the hands in a 'forward pressed' position or moved slightly closer to the target thus reducing the loft of the club. The angle produced between the left wrist and arm must be kept throughout the entire swing. The idea is to keep the reduced loft of the clubface through impact and to not let the clubhead race passed your hands during the follow-through. If done correctly, you should feel some good tension in your lower right back through impact and follow-through. Once it's set, keep it set.

This will produce very little flight and lots of roll. Good for getting the ball on the green as quickly as possible and rolling like a putt as soon as possible.

A larger version is the classic 'Bump & Run'. A shot played often when off the green on Links type courses. Using a variety of clubs, they 'Bump' the ball into the fairway and let it 'Run' onto the green. It's very effective but it does require some practice to be consistent without 'Chilliedipping'. (The art of moving the ball one foot when more is required). The reason for this is due to the increased angle at which the 'Leading Edge' of the clubhead will descend to the ball, increasing the changes of stubbing the 'Leading Edge' into the ground just before the ball resulting in a 'Fat' or a 'Chilliedip' shot.

Now, if you find yourself close to the green with a lot of green to work with, better to take a longer club like a 7 or 8 iron, depending on the circumstances of course, and swing like the first method discussed, smooth and 'relaxed' letting the natural loft of the club keep the ball low and have it roll like a putt as soon as possible rather then taking a larger or longer swing with a pitching wedge in an altered position. Less room for error with the longer club and shorter swing then with the short club and longer swing, plus it's an easier shot to execute.

Both methods will produce some leg movement due to the weight being transferred, but only through and past impact, NOT during the backswing.

In both instances the setup is very similar. With a small or narrow stance, square up the clubface to the target line and align your feet so they're pointing to the left of the target, or in an 'Open Position'. This will open your body to the target, making it a little easier to see and swing.

Play the ball in the back part of your stance or off your back foot, weight something like 50/50 and slightly forward of centre with the hands slightly ahead of the ball. Get close to the shot by choking down on the club, almost to the steel past the grip. This will get you in a nice and, what I like to call, 'Cozy' position. It's a finesse shot, so don't setup like you're going to crank it into tomorrow, it just needs to go a few feet in the air and roll, so get close and say hi.

The method you choose will determine how much 'Forward Press' and wrist hinge you will have.

Regardless, the 'Takeaway' should always be a solid 'One Piece' takeaway, with your lower body DEAD QUIET and never, ever 'give up' or 'decelerate' during your downswing. If you do, I guarantee you'll either just make the green or you'll have to hit the shot again and maybe from a tougher lie. Make up your mind as to what you want to do, believe in it, be committed and execute. "Execute what you Believe and Believe in your Execution." Hey, your ball may land up quite a bit past the pin but at least it didn't go 2 feet and still NOT ON THE GREEN....

As far as 'Pitching' goes, both work, it just depends on the hazard you have to hit over.

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Now with Sand Play around the green, the setup is basically the same except this is more of a semi full to a full shot then when chipping, so take a wider stance but still 'Open'. The ball position is forward/centre or off your front foot, weight 50/50, no real need to choke down on the club but some may be required and keep the hands ahead slightly. Now it's the SAND that gets the ball out, not the CLUB. That is why when in 'Green-Side Bunkers' hit one to two inches behind the ball, letting the sand get the ball out. This is the only shot, other then getting out of deep rough, that you don't want to hit the ball first. The difference is in the squareness of the clubface.

In greenside bunkers, the stance is open, but the clubface is open as well. Picture this, your feet are pointing left of the target but the clubface is square to the target or 'Open' in relation to your feet. This flattens the club making it easier to slide the club under the ball in a cutting fashion. The club path is parallel to your feet or 'Out to In' in relation to the target line. This will have the ball slide across from the centre of the clubface, diagonally through to the top toe portion. The least amount of sand between the clubface and the ball, the more backspin you get.

There are two swing types that can be used. First is like a 'U', where the club goes back and through relatively low to the ground, producing lower Ball Flight, less Spin and more Roll.

Second is like a 'V', where the wrists hinge very quickly having the club descends sharply towards the ball releasing quickly without turning over until after impact, producing higher Ball Flight, more Spin and less Roll. The weight distribution should be something like 50/50 or 55/45 back/front. Again, the least amount of sand between the clubface and the ball, the more backspin you get.

Once again, during the backswing, keep your legs DEAD QUIET, the deader the better.

For the ever scary Fried Egg type of bunker shot, simply apply the same rules or square up completely to the target depending on the distance required to get to the hole, and hit 11/2 to 2 inches behind the ball and dig it out!!! Both ways will not allow you to put spin of any kind on the ball so allow for roll, less for 'Open' with higher flight, more for 'Square' with lower flight.

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Putting, well there's something that is truly the epitome of what golf is,.................... ... individual. These will be benchmarks and basic fundamentals but anything goes, just as long as it feels good to you and the ball goes in the hole. Period!!!!

As far as 'Grips' go, whatever works..... The standard is the regular 'Overlapping' grip but in reverse. It's not the right pinky that overlaps it's the left forefinger that overlaps the fingers of the right hand, keeping the thumbs nicely down the front of the grip. Hence the different shaped grips for putters but not for any other club.

I strongly believe that the 'Cross-Handed' or 'Left Hand Low' grip is one of the best. Basically you invert your hands on the club, placing your left hand below your right hand on the grip. In doing this, you truly feel, 'SQUARE' to the target line. By placing your left hand lower on the grip, it really helps in squaring up your shoulders, and it truly helps prevent a breakdown of the left wrist At and Through impact. All of which are conducive to a good solid putt. When using the conventional grip, the breakdown can occur much more easily.

Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised. Again, anything goes; either you overlap 0, 1 or 2 fingers of your left hand over your right hand is pretty much up to you but I like no more then 2, better stability to make TWO parts work as ONE.

Now with a comfortable stance, I like something between 'Narrow to Wide', you know,....... solid, just as long as you feel good and steady, with your eyes over the target line, and the ball somewhere 'forward centre' in your stance. Now this is just standard, but like I said earlier, you could stand, hold and address any way you like, just as long as it feels good to you and the ball goes in the hole. Regardless, the norm is 'eyes over the target line'.

A great way to see if your eyes are over the target line, at address, hold a ball between your eyes and let it go. If the ball lands on the ball/target line depending where you place the ball at address, your head is well positioned over it.

Again a 'One-Piece' takeaway is crucial, just let the shoulders do the work. Back and Forth, no screwing around..... Again, for this and everything in this section, keep the lower body 'DEAD QUIET' and keep that head Nice and Still with no Lateral or Vertical movement.

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