Getting into golf: Lesson 5 more short game

By: | Fri 21 Jul 2017 | Comments

In the seventh feature of this series of getting into golf articles written by Kim Dowsing, partner of regular Golfshake contributor Derek Clements, Kim has another short game lesson and putting lesson.

OK, so now I am beginning to get really excited. I have joined a local Golf Club on the outskirts of Norwich and Himself has told me that we will be going out to play on the golf course soon. Very soon. Yeeks!

Am I ready? Probably not, but I just can't wait. Am I excited? Come on, what do you think?

After being taught the basics of pitching and putting I am now beginning to understand just how important the short game is and how it can mark the difference between scrambling for pars and bogeys or walking off a hole with a seven, eight or something even more unmentionable on your card.

I am chomping at the bit to get out on a course and put into practice the things that I have been learning, so my fifth lesson with Caroline Grady focused again on pitching and chipping. Right now, I walk up to the ball on the range or around the practice green and have to ask Himself whether I am playing a chip or a pitch, and I know that I have to reach a point where I can look at what is in front of me and instinctively reach for the right club and play the correct shot.

Caroline also took another look at my full swing and completed things by giving me a putting lesson, more of which later.

She reinforced the message that a chipping stroke should be very like the one that we use for putting and that I should be thinking of the letter Y. That is what should be formed between your arms and the club. I had hit a lot of chip shots since my previous lesson and was quite comfortable with the mechanics.

However, I had been struggling with pitching. She reminded me that pitching is an entirely different shot, used to clear hazards such as bunkers or mounds and the ball spends more time in the air and when it lands on the green it will not roll as far. With a pitch, she wanted me to focus on the letter L. You hinge your wrists so that when you reach the top of your backswing, which should be at about hip height, the shaft of the club points towards the ground and forms an L with your arms. For these shots you will use a far more lofted club, such as your sand wedge or your lob wedge. And the key to playing this shot well is to keep everything smooth – many players have a tendency to try to help scoop the ball into the air. And, of course, that is precisely what I had been trying to do - the club head was passing my hands at impact. 

We worked hard on getting the connection right and eventually something clicked in my brain and, lo and behold, the ball was floating up into the air, exactly as it should.

We then addressed my full swing again. Caroline was happy with the progress I am making but we were both concerned about my weight transfer on the backswing. She suggested that when I take the club back I focused on putting extra pressure on the inside of my right foot. This was another one of those light-bulb moments. I realised that I had been putting too much weight on the right side of my body but this tip stopped me swaying to the right and immediately helped me to generate more power and hit the ball more consistently. This game is not easy to learn, and I just love these 'Eureka' moments.

Then it was off to the putting green. I had already spent a fair amount of time on my putting and had adopted a left hand below right grip. "Right then Kim, I want you to try holding the putter conventionally, with your right hand below you left," Caroline said. "There are lots of ways to hold a putter, but I am something of a traditionalist and I think that people who putt left hand below right do so because they are bad putters. I would like you to try to putt with your right hand below your left, using the reverse overlap grip. If you really don't get on with it then you can always change it later."

She explained that the putting stroke is a bit like a pendulum swing but added: "Teachers all talk about a pendulum putting stroke but you need to think carefully about this because if it was a true pendulum then you would rock your arms and shoulders in an exaggerated way. All that you want is a gentle rocking of the shoulders.

Putting practice - getting into golf

"As with every other shot in golf, ball position and alignment are vital. When you stand over the ball it should be located somewhere from the centre of your stance towards the left foot [for a right-handed golfer] in order to promote topspin. A good tip to ensure that your head and eyes are in the right place is to take your address position with a golf ball on the ground - rest a golf ball on the bridge of your nose and let it fall  and if your head is in the right position, the ball will hit the one on the ground."

As to the stroke, I did not need Caroline to tell me that it was all about feel. The backswing and followthrough should be the same length and one of the keys is to ensure that you do NOT deccelerate. She also said something that may sound pretty obvious: "Kim, always remember that the hole will never come to the ball. You have to hit the ball hard enough to get it to the hole. And I promise you that if stand over a three foot putt, line it up properly, take the putter straight back and through and hit the ball hard enough then you cannot miss."

Sometimes, you just need to hear the "bleedin' obvious". It all makes perfect sense to me, so off I went after my lesson to hit dozens of putts right hand below left. And do you know what? I can confirm that the hole does not come towards the ball. Ever!

Caroline Grady can be contacted on 07771 674937 or via [email protected]

Full the full series of articles with Kim on her quest to play golf visit:


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