Don't Ignore the Short Game

By Allen Kelly, Golf Instructor

A student at his lesson told me he did not want to concentrate on his ball striking, as he hits the ball ok.

"Then why are you here," I asked.

"Because I don't hit enough greens" was his reply.

Well, the number one golfer in the World averages only 11 per round, so how many is not enough? There are two choices here, practice hitting more iron shots so you hit more greens, or concentrate on the short game and make more up and downs. Chipping is relatively simple; we often make it more difficult than it needs to be.

The ball has come to rest 5 feet off the green and it is in the rough so putting is not an option. However, the ball is sitting nicely, and the pin is 25 feet away. Taking a Sand or Pitching wedge is an option, although more often than not the club will slide straight under the ball popping it up and going no where. Unless you have practiced it the Tiger 3 wood shot, it is not a good idea.

A good move is to take a 7 or 8 iron, grip the iron down the shaft to almost the steel (or graphite), with the ball positioned off your rear foot, (depending if you are right or left handed). You should have a slightly open stance (that means your front foot is slightly inside your rear foot) and aim your clubface and shoulders at the target (flagstick or line you think ball will break along).

It is important to press your hands forward towards target, as this achieves two things: first it creates less loft on the iron, so when it hits green it will release and roll smoothly. Second, it encourages a descending blow to the back of the ball, which will eliminate the "scooping" effect.

We want the ball to land just on the green and to roll. Using a "putting" stroke (that is an arms and shoulder motion with the lower body is steady) take the club back about 18 inches and hit through about the same distance (you will have to experiment) and the ball will pop out land on the green and roll along the intended target line leaving a make able putt.

If the flag is closer to you, use a 9 iron, but use the same setup and swing. If the flag is further away, don't be afraid to use a 5 or even 4 iron, the idea is to get the ball rolling on the target line as soon as possible .

Now, what if we are in the same position but the ball is nestled down in the rough instead of sitting up and we cannot see much of it? Using a less lofted club like 7 or 8 iron is now not such a good idea as the grass behind the ball deadens the impact and the ball likely only goes a few inches.

Using what we have learned above, we want to use the same setup position, ball off rear foot, and hands forward etc, but this time we want to use a Sand Iron, or depending how deep the ball is maybe even a Lob wedge. The difference being the shaper leading edges of these clubs will cut through the rough easier and pop the ball out, because of the rough the ball will have less spin so will also roll nicely when landing on the green. It is important not to forget the forward hand press, as we need that for the descending blow.

If you practice this chipping setup, the missing of greens becomes a less of a concern.

Allen Kelly is a Teaching Professional with the Australian Golf Teachers Federation, a member of the World Golf Teachers Federation. Originally from New Zealand, Allen resides in Brisbane Australia, but is still a member of


Agree with this review? Disagree?
Post your thoughts at

Comments Leave a comment
  • chipping grip

    narissa wrote on: Apr 22, 2012

    Use a forward hand press compared to what? Does that mean thumbs are turned toward the ball?


  • Great post on the short game!

    John Lynch wrote on: Jan 21, 2009

    I like this post! The fastest way to reduce your handicap is to practice the short game. Not bad advice when 60% of all More »


      • RE: Great post on the short game!

        lou bronico wrote on: Jul 10, 2010

        when you mention hitting at the chip you do not mention if you stop when you hit it or do you have acut off swing or a More »


Lewiston Golf Package
Dates: May 4, 2017 - May 17, 2017
Start your golf season off right at Garland Lodge & Golf Resort!
Price range: $199
The Best In Golf From The Web