Mastering ‘part shots’ can fully lower scores

By: Shawn Kelly, Journal Golf Columnist
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Not to be confused with “parting shots,” which are something very different, part shots in golf are types of shots that are made with less-than-full swings. They’re known as chips and pitches. A chipping swing is a swing that doesn’t move past your hips — I call it my “pocket-to-pocket swing.” A pitch shot is made with any swing past your hips, but not quite a full swing. To shoot low numbers, the one skill you must have is the ability to control the distance of the ball within 100 yards of the hole. I utilize three swing lengths — a quarter swing, a half swing and a full swing. I also carry three wedges, with lofts of 49, 54 and 59 degrees. These three clubs, in combination with three different swing lengths, give me many options to control distances of shots anywhere within 125 yards of the green. You need to figure out how long your swing needs to be and which lofts of your wedges to use to control the ball at distances of 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. The length of the back swing is controlled by the width of your stance — the narrower the stance, the shorter distance and the wider the stance, the longer the distance. Whatever your combination is, you’ll need to practice these shots. If you need help determining what combination of lofts and swing lengths to use, your favorite PGA pro can quickly guide you through the process. The fundamentals that will help you conquer these shots are: n Grip — As with any other golf shot, allow the wrist to hinge and feel the balance of a square clubface. Grip pressure is a big key, so keep it light at the start. n Aim — Your clubface should be square to the target line and your body slightly open to that line. This allows the body to help turn through since you are not making a full backswing. n Set-up — The ball position should be at the bottom of the swing arc and is determined by taking a couple of practice swings. Where the club’s head hits the ground is where the ball had better be. Your posture should be tall, with the chin and chest up and the head never down. Your body weight should be slightly toward the forward foot at the start of the backswing to help with your angle of attack. Practice swings are a must to determine the many variables of a shot to the green. You need to 1) find the bottom of the swing arc, 2) determine how the ground feels and 3) determine how long or heavy (thick) the grass is where the ball lies. Also, look at whether you have an uphill or a downhill lie. And then, just where should the ball land on the green. There is a lot of information that you need to determine before you execute any partial shot, and your pre-shot routine and practice swings are your keys for consistency. How to practice Practice shots at 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards. Learning to control these five distances will allow you to be more consistent with your short game. Pace off those distances or use the distances given at a range or course to practice. I always use the first half of every bucket I hit to work on these distances. Keep hitting shots to these distances until you can land the ball where you want by controlling how far back to swing and what club to use. Shawn Kelly is the head golf pro at The Ridge Golf Club. He can be reached at (530) 888-7888.