3 go-to shots for get­ting up and down

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - News - By Chris Kirk

My three go-to shots for get­ting it up and down.

It’s nice be­ing good enough to have op­tions around the greens, but I usu­ally end up play­ing a shot that’s well within my wheel­house. In the first round of the Tour Cham­pi­onship last year, on the par-4 17th hole, I faced an up-and-down from just short of the green.The hole was cut in the back, just over a ridge. I could have flopped it, played a bump-and-run or even putted it. In the end I went with a trusted shot – my “driv­ing spin­ner.” Play­ing the ball back in my stance, I banged it low and firm into the ridge with my 59-de­gree wedge. The ball bounced once, checked, then rolled in for a birdie. I shot 66, and tied for fourth.The key to that shot: min­i­mal wrist break (be­low), so you’re ap­ply­ing speed with your arms and shoul­ders more than with your hands. It reaf­firmed to me that hit­ting the re­li­able shot is bet­ter than get­ting fancy. Turn the pages for a cou­ple more shots I love to play.– WITH Guy Yo­com


When the rough is thick, the temp­ta­tion is to go down af­ter the ball and slash it out. That’s a bad pol­icy, even from the heavy green­side rough we see on tour. If you’re hit­ting down sharply and thump­ing the ground be­neath the ball, you’re cre­at­ing too much speed and mak­ing it tough to con­trol how far you hit the shot.You also risk catch­ing it fat, which from thick rough pretty much guar­an­tees fail­ure.

The bet­ter way to play this shot is to make the club­head travel as level as pos­si­ble through the ball so you shred some grass but not so much that you feel a lot of re­sis­tance. Choose your most-lofted wedge – for me, it’s my 59 – and open the club­face so the grass is less likely to grab the lead­ing edge and kill the club’s mo­men­tum. Swing back and through with a steady rhythm and no burst of speed as the club en­ters the rough.

Fi­nally, keep the club­head low to the ground and mov­ing to­wards the tar­get af­ter the ball is gone (above). If the club stops right af­ter im­pact, you know you’ve hit down too steeply.

From 20 to 40 me­tres, my most re­li­able shot is one that doesn’t re­quire a lot of preswing ad­just­ments or a fancy swing shape, yet it’s ver­sa­tile enough to han­dle most sit­u­a­tions. It’s a nofrills pitch shot, though there’s a lit­tle more to it than meets the eye.

Start with a nar­row, slightly open stance, your feet al­most touch­ing. That will help you feel cen­tred and pre­vent you from lean­ing too far left or right, which is the worst mis­take I see golfers make. Play the ball in the mid­dle of your stance, and grip the club lightly. On the back­swing, con­trol the mo­tion with your shoul­ders, and let your hands and arms sim­ply go along for the ride.

Through im­pact, swing the club­head to­wards the tar­get and keep the face square. Let the loft on the face de­ter­mine the shot’s tra­jec­tory. Most im­por­tant, sweep the ball off the turf, tak­ing lit­tle to no divot (left). If you hit down sharply or try to help the ball into the air, you’re go­ing to have prob­lems.


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