SHARPER SHORT GAME

THE AMOUNT OF LOFT IS LESS IM­POR­TANT THAN THE AMOUNT OF BOUNCE BY CHRIS O’CON­NELL

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 6/15 - ByChrisO’Con­nell

Don’t hit your 60. Hit your 12.

FOR­GET TECH­NIQUE. The best way to im­prove your short game is to adopt a new way of think­ing. When you’re siz­ing up a wedge shot, don’t choose a club based on how high you want the ball to go; choose it for the lie. By that I mean, for­get the big num­ber stamped on the sole – the loft – and look for a smaller num­ber else­where on the club­head – that’s the bounce.

Sim­ply put, bounce is how much the sole raises the lead­ing edge off the turf. A wedge with high bounce (10 to 14 de­grees) helps keep the club from dig­ging in soft con­di­tions. A low-bounce wedge ( 4 to 8 de­grees) is best in firm con­di­tions, where you want the club to dig a bit. But this is an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion. Good play­ers un­der­stand bounce deeply, and usu­ally hit the right shot. I’ll show you what they know.

To begin, a good sys­tem is to use at least two wedges: a low-lofted wedge (like a 54-de­gree) with high bounce and a high-lofted wedge (like a 60-de­gree) with low bounce.

1 WHEN YOU NEED HIGH BOUNCE

▶ If your ball is on an up­s­lope, choose your high­bounce wedge. This should also be your lower-loft wedge, which is per­fect be­cause the up­hill lie is go­ing to help the ball achieve any height it needs.

The most com­mon mis­take here is to shift too much weight to the lead foot. This cre­ates ex­ces- sive for­ward shaft lean and causes the club to dig and stick into the hill­side. The shaft must be per­pen­dic­u­lar to the ground to ac­ti­vate the bounce, so at ad­dress set your shoul­ders par­al­lel with the slope and your weight pri­mar­ily on your trail foot. With the ex­tra bounce, you can even hit a lit­tle be­hind the ball and get away with it.

If you need to stop the ball fast on the green, don’t worry that you’re not hit­ting a lob wedge. Use a scoop­ing ac­tion to add loft – you heard me right. No­tice be­low that my left wrist is break­ing as I swing through im­pact. On up­hill lies, soft turf or deep sand, a scoop­ing ac­tion lets you utilise the full bounce or even in­crease it.

▶ If your ball is on a downs­lope, choose your low­bounce wedge. Again, this is per­fect be­cause it should also be your high-loft wedge, and you’re go­ing to need lots of loft to get the ball in the air.

Too of­ten in this sce­nario I see am­a­teurs pull their lowloft/high-bounce wedge – they’re doomed be­fore even at­tempt­ing the shot. The trail­ing edge “bounces” off the turf and into the belly of the ball for a hot screamer. The low-bounce wedge lets the lead­ing edge dig a lit­tle and get un­der the bot­tom of the ball.

Again, at ad­dress set your shoul­ders par­al­lel with the slope so the shaft is per­pen­dic­u­lar to the ground. Most of your weight now will be on your lead foot. You can use the same scoop­ing ac­tion to boost height and spin with con­fi­dence that the min­i­mal bounce will al­low the club to en­ter the turf.

Be care­ful of open­ing the club­face at ad­dress, as that will add bounce. Re­mem­ber: On down­hill lies, firm turf and bunkers with lit­tle sand, opt for a low-bounce wedge.

Chris O’Con­nell teaches PGA Tour play­ers Matt Kuchar and Scott Piercy. He is based at The Plane Truth at The Cour­ses at Wat­ters Creek in Plano, Texas.

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