When Everything Else Fails!


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The ability to hit a particular shot when under pressure.

It doesn’t matter what type of shot it is but every player MUST have this ability if they want to improve and stop the “bleeding”! I was lucky enough to have spent time with the late Gardner Dickinson and during our times together we spoke a lot about pressure situations. Gardner was one of the few people that Ben Hogan spent a lot of time with and actually worked for Mr. Hogan during the off season of the Tour as a Teaching Professional at Tamarisk, in Palm Springs California. One day Mr. Hogan asked Gardner what his “GOTO” shot was. Gardner didn’t have an answer so Mr. Hogan told him that every player has to have a “GOTO”. Mr. Hogan then told him that his was a punch shot. Gardners swing was modeled after Hogan so he decided to incorporate this shot into his own game.

As Gardner and I were talking I suddenly realized that I didn’t have a “GOTO” either so being a Hogan disciple I decided I would “master” this shot as well. Looking back it was one of the best things I could ever do for my game. I know that I can hit this shot under any pressure, in any condition, from any lie. What a great feeling it is to control your golf ball!

When I am teaching short game, and especially wedge play, there are only two shots that I teach. A “stiff-arm” pitch and the “knockdown” wedge. These are both reliable and accurate for the top players as well as the average player. There are virtually no moving parts so there is less risk of hitting poor shots. I personally am not a fan of trying to hit “lob” shots with a big high swing and a bent left wrist…it takes too much timing and practice. Even the best players in the world only hit these type of shots perfect 50% of the time! You can still hit a “lob” shot with a “stiff arm” pitch with much more accuracy and reliability. I recently had the privilege of working with a college player that was #1 on his team. From 100 yards and in he was getting the ball up and down 30% of the time. He used a lot of moving parts, big swings, flip the clubface, etc. After a Boot Camp on short game and learning the “stiff arm” and “knockdown” wedge play we charted his progress. His up and down percentage went to 80%!

Remember, wedges are for accuracy, NOT distance they are the scoring clubs. In fact, if you have ever seen video of Hogan and some of the “old time” players their wedge swings were quite different than their full swings. A much shorter motion and more of a “punching” action.

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