June 04, 2014
By Todd Jones, Master Instructor, TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass, PGATOUR.COM
- Your approach shot settles down in the greenside rough, nestling so deep that only the top of the ball is visible (photo, above). With so much grass surrounding the ball, you can forget about spinning it and getting it to stop quickly. But with a few adjustments, you can still chip it close enough to the hole to save your par. Here's how. (Images courtesy of PGA TOUR Experiences)
Hold the club shaft in an extremely upright position at address (photo, above), so that the heel of the clubhead is up off the ground and only the toe is touching down. This will reduce the amount of leading edge exposed to the grass, which should help the clubhead slide through the grass a little easier. To ensure the shaft is more upright, the grip has to favor the palm of your left hand. You’ll also have to stand a few inches closer to the ball, with your elbows tight to your body.
The goal of the setup is to minimize the amount of grass you catch between the ball and the clubface at impact, and to do that you need to steepen your angle of attack. To facilitate this, stand to the handle so that the butt end of the grip points at your belt buckle—this ensures the correct ball position, slightly back of center in your stance. The majority of your weight should be on your left foot with your shoulders level and trail hand slightly ahead of the ball (photo, above).
With the grip in the palm of your left hand, it’s going to reduce the amount of hinging that can take place on the backswing, and also how much clubhead speed you’re capable of generating at impact. To manufacture more speed, hinge the back of your right wrist as much as you can without overswinging (photo, above). This should create just enough momentum for the clubhead to descend down and through the grass.
Hit down on the ball with a forward-leaning shaft. As with address, your trail wrist should be slightly ahead of the ball at impact, ensuring a downward blow. It’s very important that the shaft remain in line with or slightly behind the left arm through impact (photo, above), to avoid scooping. This is one shot you can ill afford to hit fat, which is why it’s vital that your wrists remain ahead through impact.
The biggest mistake one can make on this shot is to allow the clubhead to slow down once it encounters resistance from the grass. To combat this, visualize where you want the club to finish and then strive to accelerate the clubhead to that finish position. If you can stick the finish, the clubhead should have more than enough momentum to cut through the grass and propel the ball up onto the green (photo, above).
Your weight should start left, stay left on the backswing, and finish left, with the club shaft remaining behind the left arm (photo, above). There should be very little movement to the lower body, whereas the upper torso needs to turn left to help support the swinging of the arms. Keep your torso moving to ensure that the clubhead reaches its finish position.
Todd Jones is a Master Instructor at TOURAcademy TPC Sawgrass. To learn more about Todd, or to book a lesson, click here.