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Carmel Magazine, Holiday-11.14

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TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT B Y D A N PA S Q U A R I E L L O A N D L A I R D S M A L L f the courses used for the Pebble Beach AT&T National Pro-Am—Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course—Pebble Beach, which for the average golfer has always been the most challenging, has been the only constant since 1947. It places tremendous demands on your short game. The exceptionally small greens are difficult to hit, even from short distances. If you miss the green, you're likely pitching from or over a bunker— two shots for which most recreational golfers lack the skillset. Larger greens make Spyglass Hill easier for the mid-handicapper. At Pebble Beach, one feels as if they're shooting at a dartboard from 50 yards away: if your distance control isn't perfect, you can find yourself in a bad situation. It is not uncommon to see golfers make a six or seven from inside 100 yards, even if they're playing their third shot from the fairway. I'm going to share with you some rules of the short game that will help improve your repeatability and lower your score. Rule 1: Investigate the Lie Is the ball siting up or down? Is the grass lying against you or away from you? The lie determines which club to use, because it dictates how much loft you require, what length of swing to make, and how much spin you're able to put on the ball. Rule 2: The Lay of the Land When you're approaching the green from a distance, take note of the fol- lowing: is the green playing uphill or downhill? How much undulation is there on the green? Which way is the green going to move your ball when it lands? As you get closer, try to determine whether the green is firm or soft. Do the same with the area in front of the green. This information is crucial to hitting the ball close, especially if you're pitching from 40 yards away. Rule 3: Minimum Air Time, Maximum Ground Time The simplest, safest shot around the green is the one that rolls the most. If you have no bunkers or other obstacles to carry, then get the ball rolling on the ground as soon as possible. Rule 4: Take a Dress Rehearsal Make several rehearsal swings off to the side of the ball and brush the turf where the ball would be relative to your stance. Then, using the same tempo set in your rehearsals, step up to the ball and hit the shot. Don't waste any more time thinking. The best short-game players in the world establish a rhythm for the type of shot they want to hit. Rule 5: Chip with a Variety of Clubs The way to the ball on the ground on the longer chips is to use a variety of different clubs. The best players in the world employ everything from a 4-iron to a pitching wedge when playing a long chip or bump-and-run shot. The type of stroke required is similar to a putting stroke with a little more backswing to it. Rule 6: Lose the Angles in Your Swing. The short game is all about distance control: you don't need to gener- ate a lot of club-head speed to power the ball 50 yards. Once you create angles— like the angle created by the left forearm (on right-handed golfers) and club-shaft when we hinge our wrists upward in the backswing —you have to get rid of them at some point in your swing. That can be very diffi- cult for an amateur to master in the short distance the club-head travels on a chip or pitch shot; so avoid angles. Rule 7: Follow Through to the Target The golf swing is a circular motion, and a circle has symmetry. If you think about tossing horseshoes, you always toss them with a similar-length back- swing and forward swing. You should approach all short game shots the same way. This allows you to generate enough speed on both sides of the ball to propel it to the target. It also allows you to make a complete balanced fin- ish to the shot. Rule 8: Maintain Constant Grip Pressure Wedges are the heaviest clubs in your bag, so make sure you hold the club in your fingers securely. Once you have the club secure, keep your grip pres- sure constant throughout the swing. Many amateurs soften up their grip pres- sure when they swing into impact because they're trying to be too delicate with the shot; some even let go of the club. Keep the grip pressure even throughout the stroke. Employ these rules and your short game and scores will improve. We hope to see you at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy to continue the discussion. Pebble Beach Golf Academy, located at the world-renowned Pebble Beach Resorts, features Director Laird Small and Master Instructor Dan Pasquariello. Golf Digest has ranked the two among "America's 50 Best Teachers." Choose between individual or group instruction, including cutting- edge technology and club fitting ser vices. Call 831/622-8650 for more infor- mation or to reser ve a lesson. 82 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 4 Rules of the Short Game O

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