All of us know someone who has exceptional skills around the green. High, low, check or run they just always seem to have the right shot for the circumstance. So what is it that makes them so different than the rest of us?
Probably most important is that a player with a great short game has a great imagination. They understand there is a best way to get the ball to the hole and they can picture how high it will fly, where the ball will land, and how much it will roll. This ability to “see” the shot is important not only for the experienced player, but even more so for the player trying to learn the skills necessary to hit the shot. It helps the learning process. You are more likely to learn the skill when you have an idea of what you are trying to achieve, than when it happens by accident. So succeed or fail always try to picture how a shot will play out before you attempt it.
The second difference is understanding the relationship between balance and ball trajectory. Quite simply, if your weight is over your back foot the ball will fly high. If the weight is over the front foot the ball will go lower. Of course, the actual height is influenced by the loft of the club but you can vary the trajectory for any club by changing your balance. One way to control this is by how you place your feet when you take your stance. If a lower trajectory shot is required put the club behind the ball and then put your front foot in position as if you were going to hit the shot on one leg. If a higher shot is required place put the club behind the ball and then place you back foot in position first. Again as if you were going to stand on your back leg to swing the club. The body will balance over the leg you place initially and the ball will be in the correct position relative to that stance.
The final difference to understand is that the hands control the club and the shoulders supply the power. You need your hands to control the position of the clubface during the shot. They cannot accomplish that while they are trying to move the club through the ball. That is where the shoulders come in to play. If you are having a hard time understanding this try the following drill. Find two old washcloths; put one under each arm so that your upper arms stay connected to your chest. Now go and hit small shots using just the motion of your shoulders and a small swing of the arms restricted by the washcloths. Don’t allow them to fall! For you handsy players this will be difficult at first, but as you work through it you will find the less you use your hands the easier to hit the ball in the middle of the club face.