If you’ve ever played a golf course with tightly mown areas around the greens you know this shot. You’re ball is sitting a few feet below the level of the green, there isn’t any room to get the club under the ball, and you probably don’t have that much green to work with.
Most golfers are scared to death of this shot. So much that they grab the putter. This isn’t a bad play, as you’re chance of really screwing up is low. However, you’re just not going to be able to consistently get the ball as close as you would hitting in in the air.
Despite it being a tough shot, it’s not an impossible one. With a little practice and some know how, you can hit this shot more consistently. Here are a few pointers that will help you play the high, soft pitch from tight grass:
Use more Loft
As the name states, the goal of this shot is to hit it high and soft. In order to achieve this you must use a golf club that has a lot of loft. I would recommend using a 60 degree wedge. If you don’t have a 60 degree then use your 56. If you don’t have a club with at least 56 degrees of loft, get one ASAP. Otherwise this shot will be near impossible.
Open the Clubface
Opening the clubface is often thought of as something you do in the bunker or when trying to hit a high flop shot. Opening the clubface actually serves 2 important purposes. It adds loft to the club, which helps you hit it higher and it adds bounce to the club. Adding bounce is important because it keeps the club from digging, which helps you hit the shot more solid.
The important thing when opening the clubface is to open the face then grip the club. If you grip the first then open the face it will usually return to square at impact. This goes against the purpose in the first place.
Like the clubface, ball position is important because it affects how high and how solid you hit the shot. The further back you position the ball in your stance, the lower it go. Also, the further back you position the ball the more likely your club will dig. Neither of these are good for this shot.
For the best results with this shot, position the ball 2-4 inches ahead of the center of your body. Use a reference point such as the buttons on your shirt or belt buckle and get the ball slightly ahead of that. By doing this the club will have more loft when it hits the ball, and it will have more bounce which prevents the club from digging and makes solid contact easier.
Less Hinge, More Turn
The more you hinge your wrists on your backswing the steeper the club gets. The steeper the club gets the less loft it has and the less bounce it has. Both of these go against what we are trying to achieve on the shot.
Take a few practice swing and feel wrist action and more body turn. It will feel like a neutral swing where you hit down less. This allows you to maintain the loft on the golf club, which produces height, and maintain the bounce on the club, which keeps the club from digging.
Take no Divots
Good players don’t take divots around the greens. If you’re taking a divot it means you’re digging the leading edge of the club into the turf. This makes the margin for error low and solid contact very difficult.
If you’re using less hinge and more turn, you should start to see the divots go away. You’ll actually feel the bottom of the club thump the ground without digging. The great thing about this is that it increases your margin for error. You can actually hit behind the ball and hit a good shot (sounds weird but it works!).
Swing with Enough Speed
The thing to keep in mind playing this shot is that less force is being applied to the ball. You are hitting the shot with more loft and possibly even hitting slightly behind the ball. Both of these reduce how far the ball will travel, so to compensate you must hit the ball harder.
While you have to hit it harder, that doesn’t mean trying to swing the golf club faster. It means making a slightly bigger swing, keeping the same smooth tempo. The extra length of swing will produce enough extra power to move the ball the correct distance.
Don’t fear tight grass. Use these tips to change up your approach and with a little practice you’ll become more consistent with this shot.
Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.