All elite wedge players have these 5 short-game fundamentals

March 8, 2019

Editors Note: James Sieckmann’s performance theories fuel the short games of more than 100 touring pros. Now they can empower yours. In this special lesson with the 2018 PGA Teacher of the Year, Sieckmann explains to us his five fundamentals; short game golf tips that he learned while studying some of the greatest chippers in golf’s history, including none other than Seve Ballesteros.

I decided long ago never to allow preconceived notions and ideas to affect what I teach. I go off what the best wedge players in the world do. In studying these swings for the better part of a quarter century, I’ve been able to piece together commonalities and distill them down to five fundamentals.

eve Ballesteros chips on to the 11th green during the second day of the Benson & Hedges International Open in Thame, today (Friday). Photo Tim Ockenden /PA (Photo by Tim Ockenden - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

The longer I preach these basics, the clearer the message becomes: Elite wedge players create balance in their setup and motion that affects the angle of attack and the location of the low point of their swing, while poor performers create an imbalance. Understanding these elements is the key to improving your short game.

The stability comes from managing the fact that two of the five fundamentals are steepening elements, while two tend to shallow your motion (the fifth is neutral).

The lesson? If you have too many shallowing attributes, you’ll be too shallow to make consistent contact; if you have too many steepening attributes, you’ll be too steep to maintain control. Here’s how to manage both and be the boss around the greens. — James Sieckmann, GOLF Top 100 Teacher, 2018 PGA Teacher Of The Year.

Short Game Fundamental #1: Feet Open

Set up with your feet open to the target and your head in the middle of your stance (a steepening effect).

Short game golf tip: James Seickmann demonstrates an open stance

Short Game Fundamental #2:  Downswing Starts With Club, Not Body

Start your downswing with the club, not by moving your hips (a shallowing effect).

Short Game Fundamental #3: Impact On-Plane

Deliver the clubhead into the ball on plane, established by the lie of the club at address (neutral effect).

Short Game Fundamental #4: Release the club

Never “hold off” the clubhead. Let it release past your lead leg (a shallowing effect).

Short game golf tip: James Seickmann demonstrates releasing the clubhead

Short Game Fundamental #5: Move towards the target

Let your body’s energy flow toward the target (a steepening effect).