Doug Alexander, Director of Instruction at Hank Haney IJGA
Doug Alexander is the Director of Instruction at Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C. He is a Level IV Hank Haney Certified Master Instructor and former Senior Golf Instructor for Hank Haney Golf in Dallas, Texas.
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How my tip will help:
At the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island, we teach students which club gives them the highest percentage of getting the ball up-and-down around the green. Hank advocates players putt first, chip second, pitch third and hit a lob shot fourth.
The lie always dictates club selection. If you have a good lie and the ball is sitting up with little fringe, the best choice is to putt. Putting gives you the best chance of getting the ball close.
Here's my tip:
As the distance to the flag increases, change your club. It is important to land the ball on a flat portion of the green because it helps you to control the ball's line and speed.
If the lie is good but it is too far to putt, pick a more lofted club, such as an 8- or 9-iron. When setting up, put the ball in line with the big toe of your back foot. Stand close with the club standing up slightly on its toe. The hands should be in front of the ball with about 65-percent of weight on your front foot at address. The stroke should feel like putting, making sure you hit the ball first and then the ground.
If your ball is in longer grass, and there is little green to work with or a large rise in front of you, choose a sand or lob wedge. You have two options: play it low and roll it to the hole or play it high and stop it sooner. Play it low by putting the ball back in your stance with the clubface square, using the same set-up as with an 8- or 9-iron. Play it high by putting the ball toward the center of your stance with an open clubface and 50-50 weight at address. You may feel a touch of wrist hinge in the backswing depending on the distance the ball needs to carry.
If the grass is much longer or you need to stop the ball quickly, use a lob shot. The ball should be in line with your front heel and body open to the target with weight set at 50-50. Take a big swing, leaving the clubface open on the downswing to loft the ball and hopefully stop it quickly.
- Explore all four options when putting or chipping around the green, and practice them all.