Slice the ‘Knife’ Out of Your Golf Repertoire

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By Peter Harris
Special to the Valley News
(Published in print: Thursday, July 9, 2015)

Who done it? When hitting a pitch shot, there is one type of miss that infects the way a golfer plays this shot for the rest of the round and rounds thereafter.

It’s not a mystery if you know who done it.

The main character in this mystery is the skulled shot. It also goes by the alias “the knife.”

The skulled shot happens when you deliver the leading edge of the clubhead to the golf ball, which results in a shot that rolls on the ground and knifes through the grass, wildly fast, wildly uncontrollable and to a distance far greater than intended.

This shot puts you in a state of shock and forever scars your short pitch shots for the rest of the round — and possibly rounds and rounds later.
Most think this shot was the result of too long or too big or too fast of a swing, since the ball went so far past the target. That’s probably not the case.

It’s important to understand that the length of your swing and the speed of your arms and hands that you used to deliver the club were probably good. It was the leading edge of the club that got in the way and sent the ball flying, like a knife.

Avoid reacting to that miss with a shorter, stabby stroke or decelerating the club on the downswing into impact to avoid hitting it so far. Both compensations result in deeper cuts of various shapes and forms and increase the psychological damage of ever successfully executing a pitch shot.

To prevent the leading edge from striking the ball, practice the shot without a club first. Hold your hands and arms out in front of you. Simulate a short backswing, where you hinge your wrists and your right arm folds into your side (if you are a right-handed golfer). The goal is to keep your right wrist hinged and left wrist flat through impact. Notice how your body needs to rotate toward the target and your right arm extends without the right wrist flipping.

Keep practicing this feel, and then try the pitch shot with a club in your hand. And cut the knife from your game once and for all.

Peter Harris is the director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon.