Discussion About the Short Game and Closing

I know the general core of this forum tends to revolve around the technique surrounding the full swing. I thought perhaps we could start a discussion where we share our lightbulb moments, our failings, our general musings about how to actually close the hole out and get the ball in there in as few strokes as possible.

I feel like this topic would encompass general tips, techniques, strategy, and also the mental side of finishing. I’ve been beaten many times by men with poorer long games than me but in the end they just got the ball in the hole quicker over the course of 18 holes.

I’ll start, recently I picked up a putting training mirror from academy with some lines drawn on it. 24 bucks, overall I think it’s overpriced but i feel it’s really helped my putting consistency (which is a huge weakness in my game) by showing me just how much I was changing my head position through the putting stroke. I easily average over 30 putts a round and I absolutely hate how poorly I perform. There is almost no length of putt that is a guarantee.

I was able to notice that right before I would take the club back, I would lean back towards my heels, then during my stroke my eye line would move around more. Putting on this helps me groove my stroke (the mirror has a curved line) and it has taught me to steady my eyes over the ball and keep them there. I haven’t gotten to take it out on the course yet, but I should within the next couple weeks. In practice, I feel more consistent but I know the ultimate measurement will be in competition.

My weakness (besides the full swing) is my short game. Inside of 75 yards I am a car wreck. I have been watching the lessons Elk has been getting from Phil Rodgers on SITD and have been finding that a great help. I also found a 3-hour video on YouTube of a clinic by Phil Rodgers. Just great stuff.

The lightbulbs for me from these vidoes are that if I begin my downswing with my left hip turning left and up and I finish with my chest facing the target and my hands by my left pocket things are much more consistent. I think Bradley has some similar thoughts posted here.

I found this video of Jack Nicklaus talking short game…apparently Phil Rogers and him are of similar opinions regarding hand position when pitching the ball.


Helpful stuff.

In the latest video of Phil and Elk they discuss how Phil taught Jack the short game. So not surprised they think alike on this.

The short game clips of Phil Rodgers teaching Elk and his son that high soft pitch shot technique are money. It looks real flippy, and seems like you would skull it, but I have been trying it and basically can’t miss… It’s actual pretty easy

I viewed a recent teaching series by Brad Faxon on the short game (pitching, chipping, and putting) that was broadcast on the Golf Channel.
His approach to the short game reminded me of what Lag was talking about regarding being a hitter but having a swinger’s approach within 50 yards. This might be easier for those who began the game from a swinging perspective and changed to becoming a hitter (i.e., easier to retain swininging sensibilities aroung the greens — soft hands/grip, etc.).
Faxon generally emphasized a free-flowing approach to the strike when pitching and chipping (with aspects of the swinger mentality).
What was really interesting was that he wasn’t hung up on being perfectly still while putting – he thought some natural movement should not be discarded from one’s setup and stroke. He was one helluva putter as I remember him in his prime.

I believe dave pelz in his short game book advocates something similar. He generally advocates a more upright angle of attack with the hands very passive and concentrating on smooth acceleration of the shoulders. Very much a swinger’s release.

His reasoning is that because we are naturally more accurate with our shorter clubs, the most important variable to focus on is our distance control. He proposes that is best taken care of with free flowing swing with little cocking of the wrists and little “X-factor” type lag between our hips and shoulders.

I’ve had some successs recently in my chips and pitches wiith addresssing the ball with my body open to the target, weight shifted toward left foot and simply turning my shoulders and arms together. It’s like i’msetting where i want my body to finish and makingg a short compact movement through…

Iff the movement is large enough whhere i will needd weight shhift back i’l set up a little more conventionally

I believe this is a good setup for chipping, but for pitching a more even stance may be required. Another thing that I picked up from watching the Phil/Elk series is using shaft angle to control ball height. Leaning the shaft forward and having your “chi center” in front of the ball promotes a lower trajectory while having the shaft leaning more backwards and your chi center behind the ball promote a higher trajectory.

I’ve also had some success implementing opposing hand pressure in my chips and putting. It seems to be applicable to all swings of the golf club. I try to feel like my left hand tries to go to the right and maximally contract a foot past the putt with my right hand trying to release through. This seems to stabilize my putter release so that I can very instinctually hit a straight putt. This is very big for me. Putting is a huge problem area of mine, especially when pressure is on the line in a real putt. This feel seems very repeatable, aggressive, and I hope it can help me confidently hit putts in competition. Got a tournament coming up on the 23rd.

i will try this feel

I’ve noticed that when I make bad putts in pressure situations (or i’ve had too much coffee before practicing putting) the quality of my stroke suffers, my technique does not.

To clarify, the overall look of the path that the putter will travel is the same, but I will decelerate through the putt or I will transition from backswing to forwardswing too quickly. I could combat this by focusing on tempo and accelerating through the putt.

Perhaps a good way to practice clutch putting would be to drink a bunch of cups of coffee before practicing then doing something like not being able to leave the putting green until I make x amount of putts in a row.

I know I feel a lot of pressure when I’ve been there for 40 minutes, my back is getting tired, and I have to make one more putt in order to earn the right to leave. The coffee can serve to make my adrenaline rush more extreme. Could be promising…I will report back.

I dug an old putter out of the closet. It’s got a fat grip and is set up at elbow plane. I used to have trouble with it because it seemed so laid off and I would flip my hands through the putt.

Now it feels really nice, I’m more used to the elbow plane and it is easily repeatable and I still keep the ball inside my eye line. I also tried hitting the ball on the downward stroke and had good distance control and accuracy.

In 1971, there was a drag-racing movie released which later became a cult classic called “Two Lane Black Top”. The movie starred musicians James Taylor and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, driving around the country and earning money by racing their primer gray '55 Chevy. The movie was produced by a guy named Michael Laughlin.

Around 20 years ago, Laughlin retired to Hawaii and re-taught himself his childhood golf game. His two big light bulb revelations were to hit an iron off the tee (sacrificing distance in order to be in the fairway more often) and to putt using a two-iron!

He wrote about his insights in a thin volume book called “Radical Golf”, to this day one of my very favorite golf books. Start to finish it takes maybe an hour or two at most to read the entire thing.

amazon.com/Radical-Golf-Lowe … dical+golf

His now 20-year old explanation for why the loft, lie, weight, grip and set-up of using your two-iron as a putter in my opinion makes Laughlin the “Father of Chip-Rolling”.

Incidentally, Lag’s modules on putting (ie, chip-rolling) and the short game (chipping and pitching) are highly recommended. I have found myself getting the most bang for the buck while spending absolutely the least amount of time possible on my short game. My highlight of last summer was a three club round (3 iron, 7 iron, wedge) in the 70s, using the 3 iron as my chip-roller.