November 13 2013
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
One of the PGA TOUR’s finest golfers and gentlemen, Davis Love III, hosted the PGA TOUR at the Seaside Course at Sea Island, Ga. The McGladrey Classic was a genteel and charming affair and the competitors were treated to the best of Southern hospitality, fare, and one of the best golf courses on the PGA TOUR.
The competition was engaging and it came down to the 72nd hole to determine a champion when Briny Baird made a late bogey to lift Chris Kirk his second PGA TOUR title. Credit Kirk, though. He made an incredible save for par while Baird three-putted on the 15th to keep the duel tight. Kirk then made a clutch birdie on the par-3, 17th to tie affairs up and a solid par on the final hole for 14-under par. All the while South African Tim Clark was knocking down flagsticks en route to a final round 62 and a tournament total of 13 under.
With respect to the combatants, to me the story of the week was the course. At a par of 70 and just a shade over 7,000 yards it poses the complete examination of the golfer’s bag. Holes turn in both directions and the capricious sea breezes cross up many of the holes resulting in challenging shots to the well-framed targets. The green complexes are not too big and they are guarded well by bunkers, slopes and run-offs into closely mown chipping areas. These chipping areas bring the bump-and-run or chip-and-run shot into play. It was a shot that all of the competitors had to execute properly at one time or another to salvage a par and it is a shot I would like to address:
Club selection and visualization: Before trying the chip-and-run shot it is important to visualize the intended journey of the ball, complete with where it will land first, how many bounces it will take and in what direction the ball will break towards once it is rolling on the ground. This visualization will achieve two ends. It will tighten your focus as to the shot at hand but it will also help you to see the “trajectory” of the shot in terms of its height and its flight, bounce and roll characteristics. This will assist in club selection. My advice is to use any club ranging from a 7-iron through a wedge bearing in mind the distance you need to cover and the slope you may need to climb. Naturally a straighter-faced club will send the ball lower and project it more powerfully while a more lofted club will pop it up more with less power.
Address and posture: Bend slightly from the hips as you address the ball with a narrow stance and the ball slightly behind center in relation to your feet. Lean your body weight slightly toward your lead side squeezing your trail knee toward your leading knee. This will give the sensation that the weight is more on your lead foot and very slightly on the instep of your trailing foot. Finally, set up with your hands slightly in front of the clubface.
Hands in front of the clubhead: An important key to success is to keep your hands in front of the clubhead through impact. In other words, you should swing the unit of your arms and the club, as set up at address, back and forth with minimal wrist hinging and unhinging. I always recommend a rhythmic yet abbreviated swing as the typical error I see is a follow-though that is too long. The follow-through should be low and abbreviated with the handle of the club in front of the head. Swinging the club with a “One, two” cadence with “one” being the backswing and “two” being the downswing will help to achieve this.
Final thought: As you make this awesome little shot, allow the loft and the sweet spot of the club to do their work. There is no need to try and scoop or lift the ball into the air and there certainly is no need to swing hard. By definition this shot is like a high-octane putt so swing the club as such.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.