Ask Pelz: Short-game practice and bunker shots

Ask Pelz: Short-game practice and bunker shots

Dave Pelz, one of the foremost short game and putting instructors in golf, offers schools and clinics across the U.S. Click here to find out more information.

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Q I hit great short-game shots during practice, but I can’t
take them to the course with me. I never feel comfortable over
the ball and end up chili-dipping or blading my chips. Can you
help me out?

A Tell me if this sounds familiar: On the range, you hit your first
shot fat (likely because you played the ball too far forward in your
stance). Your following shots get better as you subconsciously make
corrections to compensate for the bad ball position. At session’s end,
you’re chipping like a Tour pro. Two days later on course, however, you
chunk your first chip.

The truth is, you did take your practice game to the course,
because you chunked your first shot (the one that counts) in both
places. Bad practice doesn’t make perfect — it makes permanent. Take
a lesson and learn proper ball position before you waste any more time on the practice tee.

Q When I play bunker shots with an open sand wedge
(face 45 degrees open), I frequently hit a shank. Since opening the clubface thrusts
the hosel forward, do I need to adjust my normal swing plane or is the face too far open?

A Your open face is about perfect, but don’t move your
hands and shaft (or hosel) forward to achieve it. Loosen your left-hand
grip, rotate the face open with the fingers of your right hand as you
keep the hosel in the same place, then tighten your left hand. On a
normal fairway shot the hosel b a rely misses the ball, so a shank is
not too bad of a swing. Play the ball four inches forward of where you’d
position it for a normal lie in grass and, with a little more practice, your
sand game will fall into place.

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