With many of the UAE courses now warmer growing conditions. As a result you might experiencing their transitional phases between the summer and winter grasses you might be faced with some awkward lies until the winter grasses take over. Many of the clubs in the UAE make sure that their annual course renovations occur to coincide with the quieter months of the year as well as make the most of the encounter some imperfect turf conditions that can affect the outcome of shot that you would normally play if the course was in peak condition. This month I’ll be showing you how to evaluate the lie of the ball and it’s potential effect on the shot outcome, and provide you with an alternative option that will allow you to get that ball close to the hole.
I’m playing the second hole of the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates and after a poor second shot I now have found myself to the right hand side of the green. I’m about 15 yards away from the hole and there’s about 5 yards of fairway and 10 yards of green with a small tier that I will have to negotiate in order to get this up and down to secure my birdie.
I need to assess my options before deciding which club is going to be correct for this shot. The process is as follows:
- Review the lie of the golf ball as this can determine the quality of ball contact when making the shot.
- Review the environment around the shot – Is the shot uphill/downhill? Are there hazards to negotiate etc.
- What are the dangers that can change the desired outcome of this shot?
In this case, the ball is sitting on some thin grass with quite a lot of sand around the ball, the sand is also quite fluffy as it has just recently been spread around to encourage the grass growth in preparation for the upcoming DP World Tour Championship in November, so it might make it difficult for me to ensure that I achieve clean ball first contact. This shot is fairly level and I have about 5 yards of fairway and 10 yards of green in the way. There is a tier/ridge in the green that I will also need to negotiate. I see two potential dangers with this shot, one being the lie of the ball due to the sand around it and secondly the ridge on the green as the ball will be rolling downhill towards the flag for its final portion of its journey.
With the ball lying in some sand, my fears are that if I use a lofted club like a pitch, sand or lob wedge, then the leading edge of the club would have a high chance of digging into the sand too early and as a result, I will hit the ball heavy and it will not travel all the way to the hole.
My second concern about using a lofted club is the tier on the green between myself and the hole. I fear that if I hit the shot too soft the ball will land and stop on the upslope of the tier leaving me with a difficult putt. If I hit it too hard and the ball lands on the downslope, it could run a long way beyond the hole. I see this happening a lot with my amateur students as they generally choose a club that is too lofted when playing many of their around the green shots, in this case a lofted club is just NOT a safe option.
Having eliminated a lofted club as an option here, I’m then thinking of my lesser lofted clubs being my mid irons and consider hitting a bump and run style of shot, with a 6 or 7 iron. There is plenty of green to allow this shot to occur and the ball would roll over the tier eliminating one of my danger areas. There is a much higher chance of success with this shot, however, my mid irons still have quite a sharp edge on the leading edge of the club and there is still a risk that the leading edge could dig into the sand too far before the ball. A bump and run shot still retains a high-risk factor here so I am also going to rule this out.
Therefore I’ve decided that I want to roll the ball down to the hole but reduce the risk of digging into the sand. There is still one option out there that many amateurs do not consider, their hybrid. A hybrid is a great choice for this shot as it doesn’t offer too much loft allowing the ball to roll more as well as having a nice wide sole which reduces the chance for the club to dig into the sand. A hybrid chip is incredibly simple to execute and with a small amount of practice it can be a shot that you can consider whenever faced with some difficulty around the green.
- Grip down the club with your putting grip (note my right hand is right at the base of the grip and even touching the club shaft).
- Stand the club upright to be more vertical than its normal lie angle. This will reduce the surface area hitting the ground and reduce your risk of hitting too much turf.
- Stand tall with your posture and place the ball forward of centre with your stance and your feet narrower than normal.
- The stroke is the same as your putting stroke so be sure there is no wrist hinge or excessive movement of the lower body. The goal of the stroke is to lightly brush the turf as the club makes its swing.
With a small amount of practice you will find that this technique can be very effective as the small amount of loft on the face and the wide sole make it very easy to strike the ball cleanly. It will take some practice to get a sensation of distance control but this can easily be learnt.
Don’t be afraid to try this shot next when faced with a similar situation and if it all you would like to learn more about this technique or would like some help with your game then we’d love to see you down at the European Tour Performance Institute at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
BY GAVIN SUTHERLAND – Senior Teaching Professional European Tour Performance Institute