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How to improve your short game.

Updated on September 26, 2012

You can chip your way to lower scores.

If you've searched for this topic or are reading past the title, odds are you love the game of golf. You can probably hit the ball with some authority and maybe even with a little accuracy. But then you get around the green. You just went 400 yards in two shots and you see the promised land, that 4 1/4 inch hole in the ground, on the putting green. The problem lies in how you will get from the approach or rough onto that surface, and hopefully close to the hole. You take your stance and execute the chipping swing, or at least what you think is a chipping motion. You hit the ball and it rolls across the green, never getting air born. Or you hit the ground the first, barely getting to the ball, rendering it a thud, ending up a few feet in front of the spot where it previously lie. Well golfers, you can go to the range all day, grab that driver and whack away. But if you want to lower those scores, that handicap and that tab you owe your Sunday morning playing partners, read on and I will help you improve that very important aspect of your golf game, the short game.

Let's get you set up correctly. Follow these basic steps and you will already be better than you were before:

1) Choke up on the grip, holding the rubber close to the shaft. This shortens the club enabling you to have a lot of control over the club.

2) Because the club is shorter, you should now get closer to the ball. Your head should be pretty close to right over the ball.

3) As with any shorter club, your feet should be closer together. Set up with an open stance. This encourages a more downward, steeper approach to the ball. It is this descending blow that will ultimately cause the ball to go up into the air, a problem I'm thinking many of you currently have, not getting the ball in the air.

4) Your weight should be favored on your front side (left for righties and vice versa). This too encourages a downward swing that strikes the back of the ball. If you are hitting the ground first, 9 times out of 10, you weight is on the wrong side, staying back. Check it out next time you hit a fat shot.

5) The ball position should be slightly back of center. We want the back of that ball to be struck first, before the ground. Trust this. Don't fall into the trap that puts doubt in your head. I do realize that you may be only few feet from the green, but if you strike the ball the way you should, it will go up, land softly and you will be able to control what it does. It's an amazing feeling and the key to a good short game.

6) As for the stroke itself, bring the club back the distance you need to get the ball to its landing spot. We are NOT landing the ball at the hole. We must account for some roll. Pick out your landing spot and whatever distance you bring the club back, follow through the same distance. If your back swing is 2 feet, then so is your follow through. Thing of a swing on a playground. It goes back and forth THE SAME DISTANCE, unless the swinger does something to affect that motion. Don't do it.

7) Accelerate through the golf ball. NEVER decelerate on any shot in this wonderful game. It causes poor contact, topped balls, fat shots and errant shots, basically defeating the purpose of this hub!

8) Finally, don't break your wrists. Our goal is NOT to slide the club face under the ball. It is to strike the back of the ball with a descending blow. The club manufacturer built LOFT into that wedge of yours. Let it go to work for you.

I have been a golf pro for ten years and a varsity golf coach for five. Try the set up and trust the swing.

I would love to hear how it's working for YOU, so any feedback you can provide would be wonderful. Now go out there and lower those scores.

-Vinnie Manginelli, PGA

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