Instruction Video

WATCH: Master your short-game options around the green

By Alex Riggs
We’d all love to hit 18 greens per round, but for some of us, that is only a dream. Finding yourself around the green, scrambling for that up and down is part of the game. Depending on the situation, we need to choose the shot that gives them the best odds for success. 

As a general rule, when considering the safest option around the green, start with the putter and work towards the more lofted clubs. In the end, it all comes down to contact, and the putter is the easiest, given there is no need for ground contact. It may not be the most glamorous of shots, but we must prioritise getting the ball on the green surface, ruling out the big misses. The grass you are playing from and what is between you and the hole will determine what your options are. If you have fairway in front of you and no hazards to fly over, I’ve got a fool-proof bump-and-run option that will revolutionise your short game. If you find yourself in a situation where you have very little green to work with and are forced to fly it, I’ve got the perfect high-launching, soft-landing shot for you.

1. Hybrid Bump-And-Run
This style of shot is going to be the simplest from an execution perspective. Place the ball in the middle of your stance or the same as you would if you were putting. Choke down on the club and stand close to the ball. This helps the club sit more vertical, slightly lifting the heel off ground. Positioning the club this way puts our wrists in a way where they will be less involved in the movement. The swing is going to feel the same as your putting motion, using primarily the shoulders to move the club. As a thought, think of ‘sweeping’ the ball, rather than ‘hitting’ it.  Plan for the ball to release on the green like a putt. This shot can be completed with anything from a 3 wood to a 9 iron depending on your comfort. I’m a big fan of using the hybrid as I find it comes off with a similar speed as the putter, with more loft so it’s easier to judge the distance.

2. Soft-Landing Shot
This option is slightly higher risk, so I would advise practising this, but reserving it for situations where you have no other chance to get the ball on the green. You’ll want to use your most lofted club for this shot. Place the ball forward in your stance, in line with the big toe of your front foot. This ball position helps us to create a shallow brush, preventing the club getting stuck in the ground, launching the ball high. A higher launch will lead to a softer landing, which is just what we need to stop the ball. Soften your hands as much as possible, this will help the club release more freely giving you more loft at impact. The release gives you speed, which increases the spin on the ball, ensuring the ball doesn’t roll out too much. My favourite thought for this shot is to think about finishing the motion with the end of the grip next to your hip… Grip to Hip! This helps keep the hands soft, giving me a full release.

The key to a quality short game is knowing the shots you are comfortable with and not forcing the ones you aren’t. Understanding the scenario you are in and playing the shot that gives you the greatest odds of getting on the green. For the mid- to high-handicap golfer, spend more time getting comfortable with the bump-and-run options like the hybrid or mid-iron low shot. This shot is technically much easier to master than the soft landing shot. Once you develop competency in the low one, then I would try to add the soft option into your repertoire.

Alex Riggs is a Canadian-born golf coach who specialises in finding simple and effective strategies to lower scores. For lesson inquiries, contact Alex via [email protected] or +971 55 497 7913

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More golf tips and instruction:
It is never too late to pick up a club for the first time — some tips to get started
Straight to the point for short-game success
Mobility and stability are key links in the chain to golf fitness
The chips are down if the hips are right
Looking for more power? It’s all about kinetic sequence forces
Understand golf’s power chain and how to avoid a weak link in your swing
Why solid putting starts with a sound set-up
Alignment is a fine balancing act to stabilise clubface
Why you are wasting your time on the range
Claude Harmon III’s simple impact drill
How Billy Horschel’s simple back swing move will make you a better ball-striker


Golf Digest Middle East

Launched in 2008, Golf Digest Middle East is the #1 golf magazine in the region, featuring local content and exclusive articles from the world's leading professionals

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