My typical round is a lot like yours. I'm playing pretty well, avoiding the big number, and then it happens: I put myself in a spot from which Houdini himself couldn't escape. Case in point, the situation I face in the photo above. Here, I've botched my second shot on a par 5, leaving me 60 yards short and right of the green with a stand of pines blocking my path to the pin. Most players would punch out to the left, but that's a little too safe for my taste -- it would leave me with a partial wedge into the green for my fourth shot. Hardly a recipe for securing par. Another option? Thread the needle between the trees and go at the pin, yet that risks -- plunk! -- ricocheting my ball off a tree trunk. Luckily, I have a trick up my sleeve: Hook a wedge around the trees and onto the green. That's right, you can hook pitches as easily as you can full shots, and you don't have to be a master shotmaker to do it. Just follow these steps:
HOW TO HOOK A PITCH
STEP 1 Aim your body about 15 yards right of your target (yellow line, left).
STEP 2 Loosen your grip and close the clubface so that it points about eight yards right of the target (solid white line).
STEP 3 Regrip the club, then swing in the same direction as the yellow line. Hit the ball with the force you'd use for a 50-yard shot.
STEP 4 Do it right and the ball will come out nice and low along the solid white line, then hook toward the target (dashed white line). It's easy and fun!
If you need more curve than this, aim (and swing) further to the right and shut the face even more.
My system also works if you need to work the ball the other way. To slice a pitch, aim 15 yards left of the target, point the clubface to the left about half that amount, then swing in the direction of your stance line. Slices don't carry as far as hooks, so use a little more muscle.
Sure, you might be able to pull off these shots on your first try, but a little practice helps a lot. The trick is to keep the clubface pointing halfway between your stance/swing line and the target both going back and coming through. It won't take long to get a good feel for curving short shots. When you do, you'll have a bona fide par-saver in your short-game arsenal. Better yet, you'll be one step closer to becoming a complete player.