For years, get me near the green in a place that required a high, short shot and I was a basket case. I tried everything they said about hitting flop shots, pitch shots, and chips around the green and I was so bad at it I just avoided hitting these shots. I had the dreaded chipping yips!
Then I got a 64-degree wedge.
And nothing changed.
That’s right! I still couldn’t hit it. So I examined what I was doing with these shots and I decided that I was so bad at them I would try the opposite of what I thought. And darn it if I didn’t start hitting great high, short shots!!! Suddenly the 64 wedge was a valuable tool in my bag!
Ok, is there a secret? Well, maybe, but until you find it, here’s what I did:
1. Put your feet relatively close together – generally straight under your shoulders
2. Put your weight on the inside of your rear foot
3. Stand taller
4. Make the shaft VERY vertical so the clubhead is “toe-down”
5. Align your feet slightly left and your shoulders pointed at the target
6. Drop your rear shoulder very low, and relax it.
7. Swing shoulder high to shoulder high, pretty upright, and relatively slow
8. Work “WITH” the club, moving with the club and not against it
9. Don’t overly affect the club during the swing
10. And, if there is a secret, #10 might be it…read on…
The set up is the beginning of the success of this shot. If you are in these positions you will more likely present the club to the ball in a more successful position. In the “toe-down” position the ball will naturally be struck higher on the face than if the toe was up and the heel touching the ground (think bladed and chunked shots).
The working “WITH” the club means you swing with little effort and with little effect on the clubface. It’s as if the club is a part of your body. You don’t swing fast, or extend your arms artificially, or with effort.
Here’s #10 – my secret to these shots… The rear shoulder and arm is VERY relaxed and does pretty much as little as possible in the swing. Make sure the rear shoulder doesn’t rise or engage the muscles significantly. The secret is…are you ready?…I generally charge for this…on the forward swing make the rear shoulder swing “inside” of the forward shoulder, in effect pushing the forward shoulder a little bit up until about the time the club reaches the ball.
What happens is the rear shoulder becomes exposed to the target late instead of rotating out toward the ball early. This brings the club on a useful path that is more shallow, rather than steep. (I know, you’re told to hit down on it. The club is still going down through this process, but often too steeply, so shallowing a bit is a good thing).
This is why I got a 64-degree wedge – this technique started working so well that I wanted the ball to go higher and shorter, and so I tried the 64. And, darned if it didn’t work – it did!
This is not a “flop” shot, because I am not engaging the wrists to slide the club under the ball. It is a very soft swing in which the body and club are sync’d up and requires little effort. Combine all the positions and this swing, and you can even hit a lob shot off a tight lie! Forget flop shots – unless you’re really good at them. Working through this has helped my short game immensely around the small, fast greens at our course – Emerald Valley GC in Eugene.