How to navigate your pitch shots when you're short-sided

By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Problem Area: Short Game
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 | 10:59 a.m.
One of the most intimidating shots to hit in golf is the one after you've short-sided your approach.
 
First off, what does short-sided mean?
 
It's when you've missed the green with your approach shot and are left with a pitch with little green between you and the hole compared to other spots around the green. You've heard of a "good miss." Well, the short-sided approach is the polar opposite of that.
 
The shot you hit after short-siding yourself can determine how bad -- or limited -- the damage will be on your scorecard.
 
 
So what do you do in those situations where you're left with a touchy chip or pitch and virtually no green to work with between you and the hole?
 
We reached out to 2013 PGA National Teacher of the Year Lou Guzzi to get some insight and some options.
 
1. Chip with an open-faced, 60-degree wedge and light grip pressure.
 
"When you're in a spot where you're going to need to just barely land it on the green, I'd recommend opting for the 60-degree wedge," Guzzi said. "You're going to want to open the face and just use your natural chipping technique. But here's the key that you don't want to forget: Keep the grip pressure ultra light. On a scale of 1-10 with "1" being the lightest, you want to be gripping that club at about a 2. What will happen if you do that is the grip pressure will deaden the ball once it hits the grass and there's a chance you can get up and down."
 
2. Chip an 8- or 9-iron into the grass just short of the green.
 
"In a short-sided situation, a lot of amateurs might try to hit that 60-degree wedge short of the green and run it on," Guzzi said. "Here's the problem with that -- since it's such a lofted club, it's not going to have any heat on it. It'll hit the grass and it won't bounce and run. You're going to need some giddy up and punch. An 8- or 9-iron, meanwhile, will get you that extra push through the grass and move forward onto the green. It's a shot you have to practice because you have to see it to believe it. If you miss your target and hit the green with it, you're going to have a real long putt coming back. The percentages of getting it close from being short-sided are so low, but this shot is worth a try."
 
3. Hit your shot from the rough as if you're hitting it from a bunker
 
"Have you ever hit a bunker shot out of the grass?" Guzzi asked. "In the high rough at the range, take your club, move it 3-4 inches behind the ball, open the face, take an aggressive swing like you want to hit it 70 yards, accelerate to a full finish and see what happens. Use that bunker technique out of the rough. You might hit a shot that looks just like a greenside bunker shot. Rotate the body and accelerate through."
 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.


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