Managing Swing Pace For A Better Short Game
One of the common tendencies of recreational golfers is to get too quick in their swing pace on their shorter shots. I watch golfers almost jerk the club back and jab/stab it at the ball when they are trying to execute a short chip or pitch. I believe this is due largely to the fact that we’ve been fed the advice of “accelerate through the ball” relentlessly by the magazines and videos about putting and the short game.
The other contributor is nervousness. That makes our muscles tighten up and get “twitchy”, and causes us to speed up all our motions. It doesn’t happen just in golf.
I’m a big believer that the closer you get to the hole, the slower you should swing the club. I’ve written about the comparison of a playing a golf hole to painting a house. The driver is like the sprayer or power roller; it puts down paint powerfully, but not with the utmost of precision. The approach shot is the cutting in of windows and doors. You work a little slower to gain precision. And the short game – chipping, pitching and putting – are the trim brushes. You work slower still, and with utmost precision to make sure the finished work is perfect. A bad trim paint job can mess up the best of the other parts.
In my opinion, you almost cannot move the club too slowly in the short game. This part of scoring requires precision, and all things we try to do precisely require us to slow down a bit. You want to be precise in just how far back you take the club, so that you can accurately judge distance. You need to be precise in ball contact so that you can get the right amount of spin you need for the shot at hand. And you need to be precise in the swing path so that you can get the trajectory you envisioned for the shot you picture in your mind.
So, why not work just a bit slower to give all that precision a chance to happen?
Here’s a great drill session for you. Go to the practice green with several balls and practice hitting chips and short pitches in s-l-o-w -- m-o-t-i-o-n. This is harder than it sounds, but do it. Take the club back very slow, feel a deliberate pause at the end of the backswing/stroke, and then come through the ball very slow . . . almost agonizingly slow.
To do this, you’ll need to keep your right hand (for RH players) more passive on the club than you ever have. Hold and control the club with your left/lead hand, but hold it lighter than you think possible. Engage your upper body to control the swing – it’s easier to move the big muscles slowly than the small muscles. The downswing should feel like you are not doing anything but letting gravity bring the club back to the ball. As you get the feel of these slow motion swings, experiment with seeing just how s-l-o-w you can hit a shot. You’ll be surprised.
So, there’s a new tip for you to try. I’m certain it will improve your contact consistency, distance control and trajectory control.
Let us all know how it works.
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[ comments ]
I have been working on this for the past couple of months and it works great. I hit the sweet spot more often than I have in the past. I'm still not getting the proper trajectory and spin which lead to better distance control. However, I am much better at hitting my landing area.
“accelerate through the ball” should be renamed "finish your swing"..
I have been working on this and have seen much improvement!
SD Charlie says:
This is always a great reminder. Ever since a wedge guy post from a while back, I always think "S-L-O-W" on my short game shots. I picture that comment in my head and even say it to myself before I take any practice swings. If a practice swing seems too fast, I slow it down even more. I have to say, it really helps a lot. My short game bailed out my round last weekend, leading to a personal best at Torrey Pines (North).
Except, perhaps, if I may be so bold, on greenside bunker shots. Seems to me that whenever I've swung slow on a bunker shot it's been awful. That's not to say I go mad, just that the downswing needs to be a committed swing for it to work.
Last night I got to try my newly-shafted-to-the-right-length-irons-after-they-were-adjusted-for-loft-and-lie, and for those short shots I had, as SD Charlie said, "S-L-O-W" in my mind, and I almost holed a couple chips and it all worked out way better than before. Was only 4 over for 8 holes (had to skip through one because the slow group in front wouldn't let us play through) and that was because of two bogeys and a double bogey.
Tim Horan says:
As a Post Script to this...I just watched Luke Donald pick up his second BMW PGA at Wentworth. Now there is a swing pace to copy. Whatever club he had in his hand the pace did not change. Four days, 170 ish swings no change, totally focussed, Totally in control!
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