Mechanics: Short Game vs. Long Game

A common misconception is that the mechanics of your shorter swings should match those of your full swings. While this pattern matching may be comfortable for most players, it is often what causes inconsistencies in solid contact and difficulties in being able to control distances with your wedges. It certainly makes sense that your shorter swings should be just a miniature version of your longer swings, however the goals are different for these two different areas and thus your mechanics need to match what the shot calls for. Let’s go over some of the components of both our long game and short game and see what we find.

Long Game·

  • Maximum speed
  • Power
  • Lag
  • Lower Body/ Upper Body Separation
  • More shaft lean
Short Game·

  • Controlled Distances
  • Touch around greens
  • Rhythm
  • Synchronization of body movements
  • Less shaft lean

As you can see from the lists above, these two areas generally consist of different characteristics. The main goal of our long game is to create maximum distance within our capabilities. We do this by creating a great amount of torque through the use of our bodies and the shaft leaning forward at impact to have a downward strike on the ball. Contrarily, with our short game we want a more rhythmic and synchronized body motion that will allow us to better regulate the speed at which we deliver the club and less shaft lean so we can use the bounce of the club to our benefit.

The process of hitting a good shot with an iron or wood begins with the sequence at which the body moves. When we take our backswing for a full shot, we are creating coil and building up torque. With the proper kinematic sequence on your downswing (hips, shoulders, arms, hands, club), we create a tremendous amount of speed and we get our accuracy from the coordination of that sequence. By the time the clubface reaches impact, your hands will be ahead of the ball and the shaft should be leaning forward towards the target, effectively turning your 7-iron into the loft of a 6-iron thus gaining distance.

With the short game, the need for distance is minimal. We are much more concerned with having consistent distance control and ball flight control. The way in which we accomplish this is with a very rhythmic and synchronized body motion along with consistent contact. Unlike with our long game where we want to de-loft the club, in pitching motions we actually want to feel as if we are returning the shaft to impact with less forward shaft lean and with the butt of the club pointing towards the center of our body. This allows your wedge to glide along the ground at a very shallow angle allowing you to make good contact with the ball on a more consistent basis.

Based on what we are trying to achieve with these two different types of swings, we have to employ methods that will make our desired result attainable. For best results as an individual, you will need to find out which mechanics you are employing into your short game that may be to your advantage or disadvantage. If you have questions or comments about some of the things you are trying in both long game and short game feel free to leave a comment below, or send a message via Twitter to @Fab_colon for some personalized feedback. Pictures and swing videos are welcomed as always.


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