How's your golf game inside 100 yards? This will help.by Dave Nastalski
Most professional golfers and skilled amateurs would agree that the fastest way to improve your score and gain the edge isn't by beating balls on the driving range. It's not by buying the newest and greatest driver, hotlist set of irons or by honing your ball flight. What separates struggling amateurs from good amateurs, and excellent mini tour players from tour professionals?
It starts inside of 100 yards and finishes with the putter.
Let's get honest about your short game. How good are you with a wedge in your hand and how good are you with a putter?
Tour players hit 85-95 percent of their greens when approaching from 100 yds or less. How would you stack up? Take the challenge:
Hit 10 balls from 100 yds to a target green. After all 10 shots, measure your hit percentage, and calculate your average distance to the hole.
Now, do the same drill but let's think about something to help with consistency. And to do that, we need to loosely define a couple terms first: pressure movement and mass movement. Pressure movement means adjusting the amount of force in the ground. Mass movement means moving your body mass (side to side, typically). Are you able to sense the difference?
Good players don't move their mass a lot with wedges. They do still move pressure, however. Try this drill:
Stand on two feet, centered and stable. Then, lift your right foot and put it back down. And then do the same with your left foot. Then, go a little quicker like you're a marching soldier. Do you feel your pressure moving right and left as each foot hits the ground? Good. This is the golf swing of the most elite wedge players in a nutshell. Notice how you didn't sway your hips massively to one side or the other. That would be MASS movement.
NOW, let's give another drill a try!
1. Get a wedge in hand and get your pressure under your lead foot about 65-70% at address. As you pivot into the backswing, focus on staying stable as you turn. It's okay to feel pressure moving under your trail foot but its NOT okay to have a bunch of hip slide into your trail hip. Let's remember, pressure is different than mass!
2. Before your backswing completes, start shifting your pressure back into your lead foot. Again, pressure...not a whole bunch of mass. This is called leveling out, or re-centering. Inevitably, your mass will move forward here. But the key is, how much? On tour, the average distance players move towards the target is about a fists' width.
3. Once you feel like you've skated back to 50/50 pressure at the top, you can start the downswing. The downswing is initiated by a small horizontal (along the ground, towards the target) and downwards (slightly increasing flex in both knees) force into the ground and NOT a spinning of the body. Once you have a little bit of target and down force into the lead foot, you can then use that ground to push up and power your pivot! This is an effective use of pressure to stabilize the low point, shallow out the golfer, AND power the golf swing.
Good wedge players use pressure to their advantage to create athletic sequence, and good wedge players NEVER stay down in the turf. Staying down is some of the worst advice you'll ever receive as a golfer. I don't think you can ever be too tall through a wedge shot.
On tour, the average proximity to the hole from approach shots inside 100 yards is 15 feet. By shear probability, you're going to make DOUBLE the putts from 15 feet than you would from 25. And if you find yourself in search of defying the odds even further, get yourself a Navigator and learn how to start putts on line. Dave Stockton, putting guru, frequent contributor to Golf Digest Magazine, and coach to Phil Mickelson, would agree that picking a spot in front of the ball and rolling it over that spot is the easiest way to make more putts and lower your score!
If you find yourself struggling with hitting greens from 100 yards and in, it's time to book a lesson with a local PGA professional (link for Raleigh), and get those wedges under wraps!
And if you find yourself struggling to hole those putts you know you should be making, pay our Navigator a visit. You won't be disappointed.