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Amen Corner: Don’t Let Tall Grass Slow Down Swing Momentum

  • The biggest challenge when it comes to wedging a ball clear from tall grass is the way the foliage slows the momentum of the club head through impact.



Special to the Valley News
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

What a rain storm we had last weekend! If you were one of the unlucky ones to be caught driving in the middle of the pouring rain, you probably experienced driving through a larger-than-normal puddle or two.

Such a situation is like facing a short pitch shot out of the deep rough. Your approach to driving through a puddle or hitting a pitch shot out of the rough should be similar as well.

When driving a car toward a pond in the middle of the road, you assess how big the body of water is, how deep the water could be and how much speed it will take to successfully enter and exit the body of water safely.

When you actually drive through that water, you feel the momentum of the car slow down as it first enters the water. Then you hope you have enough momentum to keep carrying you through the water to reach dry land on the other side.

If your car stalls in the middle of the puddle, you’re in big trouble. If you fly through the puddle wicked fast, you may not be ready be what’s on the other side.

When hitting a short pitch shot out of the rough, you need to assess how tall and dense the grass is, just like a pond in the middle of the road. Your approach to this type of shot should begin with taking practice swings determining how much club head speed it will take for the wedge to successfully plow through the grass.

Once the club hits the tall grass, you can expect its momentum to be slowed way down. If it gets slowed too much, there will be no energy left to lift the ball out of the rough and you’ll be forced to hit the shot again out of the same predicament. If you approach this shot with too much speed, the ball could potentially fly over the green to all the trouble on the other side.

The execution of hitting a pitch shot out of a deep rough begins with your backswing, where you’ll want to hinge your wrists early and lift the club up on a steeper swing plane. At the top of that smallish backswing, the club head should be higher than your hands, which will allow the club head to gain momentum when you drop the club into the rough behind the ball.

On the downswing, there is no need to try to lift or scoop the ball into the air. You want to use the natural momentum of the club created by just dropping the club to the ground with the focus of keeping the momentum of the club going and sliding the club head under the ball.

Also, you don’t need to hit the ball before the ground like you do on an iron shot from the fairway. You can use the bounce or back edge of the wedge to help keep the club sliding through the grass. It’s pretty much like a bunker shot as well.

The next time you’re faced with something designed to take your momentum away like a big puddle or deep rough, let the club head fall and bounce off the ground. Then, while sliding the club head under the grass behind the ball, and you will see the ball pop up in the air. Bingo, home safely!

Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.