Thursday, February 22, 2007

A wayward approach shot lands short of the pond fronting the green, with 50 yards of water and rocks left to clear. How do you get the ball on the green without getting soaked?


1. Rehearse the shot - Is there enough room between you and the rocks to get the ball up and out, and to clear the high grass? If not, pitch it back to the fairway. If there is enough room, go for it.

Find a similar lie in the straw-like grass, and take a few practice swings (right). The more resistance you encounter, the steeper your angle of approach needs to be.

Listen for the sound of the clubhead cutting through the grass because you'll need a lot of force behind the ball.

2. Inch up on the ball - Stand a little closer to the ball than normal to increase your angle of descent so that you don't catch too much grass between the clubface and ball.

Cheat your weight to your left side and move the ball just back of center in your stance (right). If your stance is uneven, add some flex to the knee of the leg that's higher.

3. Set the club early - Hinge the club up quickly in your backswing so that your wrists are fully set by the time your hands are waist-high.

You should see a sharp angle (about 90 degrees) between your left forearm and the shaft (right). Think about moving the clubhead up abruptly, not widening your arms.

4. Hold the angle - As you swing down, rotate your chest aggressively through the shot while retaining the angle between your left arm and clubshaft for as long as you can.

By holding the angle, you encourage the clubface to stay open so that it doesn't turn over and dig into the grass.

Let your chest provide the power, not the release of your forearms. On your follow through, keep your hands in front of your chest (right).


MITCHELL SPEARMAN is director of instruction at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y.

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