Monday, February 6, 2017

Thoughts on Short Game Technique

About a year ago I altered my short game mechanics that resembled more of what you see out of a player like Brett Rumford:

Short Game play has probably been the best part of my game over my playing career.  I practiced it a lot as a junior golfer and then heavily needed when my ballstriking went to hell in college.

My old technique was an open stance at address, little wristcock in the backswing and then a big slide forward in the downswing while I un-cocked my right wrist to get the shaft to stand vertical instead of having forward shaft lean.  Vastly different from Rumford's technique, but it still worked very well (obviously, not anywhere near as well as Rumford's technique).

Here's a great video shot with Joe Mayo, Brian Gay, Grant Waite and John Riegger explaining the technique that is similar to what Rumford uses.

There's some basic concepts to this technique.

1.  Having a shallower attack angle

2.  Having the club head hit the ground more with the sole/bounce than the lead edge.

3.  #1 and #2 will allow for a larger margin for error so if the golfer is off they can still hit a quality shot and they are not hitting a divot which means more friction when the ball hits the club which means a higher spin rate.

A while ago I watched the Be Better Golf vlog where golf instructor Tim Yelverton did a great job of explaining how attack angle and margin for error work hand-in-hand.

I thought the airplane analogy was brilliant.  Of course, you can land an airplane perfectly with a steep angle of descent, but you're decreasing your margin for error.  The same works with the short game.

So while my old technique was effective for me, it really boiled down to lots of practice, particularly when I was a young kid.   The only problems I found with my old technique were:

A)  Muddy, dead grass lies which are commonplace in the winter in The FLA.

B)  Relying more on hitting the ball with a higher trajectory since I was getting less spin.  Again, I find getting distance control down with a higher trajectory requires more practice.

It took me about 2 months to start to nail the mechanics of the Rumford style swing.  Where the lightbulb went on for me is what Grant Waite talks about in the Periscope video, you have to get that wristcock in the backswing and keep the radius narrow.

I found that without the early wristcock you are going to widen the radius in the backswing and are now more apt to float load on the downswing and thus steepen the attack angle and hit the ball more with the leading edge.  The float loading may not even be noticeable with the naked eye, but it's just enough to steepen the attack angle too much.

The other issue I found was using this technique on higher launch shots.  While I was becoming very good at low and mid-trajectory short game shots...I was struggling a bit with the flops and lob shots.  That's when I started to notice that the speed of the cocking of the wrists plays a factor.

On higher trajectory short game shots, I needed to increase the speed at which I cocked the wrists.  For me, I started to feel this on the short game range where it felt like I had to speed up the wrist action in the backswing to get the club head where it needs to be in the downswing.  But, when I looked at some videos on Tour, I started to notice much of the same...a quicker backswing than downswing on flop shots:

So, here's a final summation of my thoughts on the subject:

1.  More Tour players have gotten away from the higher trajectory short game shots in favor of a lower trajectory, higher spinning shot.  This makes distance control easier because the carry distance is easier to feel on a lower trajectory and the spin will stop the ball rather than hitting a high trajectory and using the angle of descent of the ball's flight to stop the ball.

2.  The modern technique is more about early wristcock and keeping the radius in the backswing narrow.  Then creating a shallow attack angle and having the club head hit the ground more with the sole/bounce of the club head than the leading edge.  This allows for a greater margin for error and higher spin rates.

3.  The more difficult the lie, a shallower attack angle helps more.

4.  The higher the trajectory of the shot, the faster the wrists need to hinge in the backswing.



Juan Gutierrez said...

Rich... have you studied the James Sieckmann materials and specifically his book "Your Short Game Solution"? If so how does it compare to what you are suggesting?

Rich H. said...

There are basic similarities. Particularly 'using the bounce' instead of the leading edge of the club.

Joe S. said...

This sounds a lot similar to what Monte Scheinblum preaches in the short game. That right hand driven swing. I always think about "throwing a ball underhand".