MGS Short Game

This section will be devoted to all questions on/ descriptions of the short game – MGS style.

If you like the MGS full-swing, you will love the MGS short-game.

Cannot Chip? Chipping Yips?

Get rid of chipping problems FOREVER.

This morning’s student has been playing golf for decades, and twice a week for the past 10 years, of which he’s had chipping ‘issues’ for 8!

What’s the problem? He might hit behind the ball ie. ‘fat shots’, he might top the shot or he might, horror of horrors, shank it.

What has he done about it? He’s had lessons in the USA, the UK and in India. His best ever lesson was when a pro put two sticks perpendicular to the target line, behind ball and told him to miss the sticks but connect the ball. It felt so easy, ‘like a feather’ but then he forgot what the pro’d told him.

It probably looked something like this:

Pic 1

I told him ‘teaching aids’ give a ‘feel’ for something, and ‘feel’ is a very ephemeral thing, and one which is quickly lost under pressure or even under real-life playing conditions.

A permanent solution can only result from placing the body – during the set-up and backswing – in positions from which undoing the bending or twisting of body parts is easy and not time-consuming.

The first thing we did was to check that his ‘yips’ were only a case of non-ideal set-up and backswing, not a neuromuscular issue. If his right hand (for a right-handed golfer) twitches during impact, it is a neuro-muscular issue, probably difficult to cure in a half-hour lesson!

This student’s Problem:

His set-up position had his feet and chest very ‘open’ to the target (ie. facing target), and his knees were excessively bent, which together forced the waist of the right-side down so low, it cramped the right arm and shoulder during the backswing. As a result, the right elbow was not able to straighten in the direction it is designed to, and thus the right arm created a jabbing action. The right shoulder, at the same time, was dropping forward and down, worsening the situation and creating shanked shots.

His set-up looked something like this:

Pic 2

The Cure:


Instead of his body being positioned down, forward and ‘open’, it should be placed up, back and closed. Ideally, for the chip-shot for any skill-level of golfer:

  •   Squared toes, weight almost evenly distributed through feet, NOT excessively through the      left leg
  •   Ball position back of stance
  • Right shoulder behind left so that someone standing on the target side of the golfer cannot see his chest
  • Right side only very slightly lower than left – ie. stand rather tall, not ‘shrunk’ on the right side
  • Tilt the right ear very slightly towards the right shoulder
  • MAINTAIN the head angle from address to impact, and
  • BACKSWING: swing the arms as a single unit with NO LOWER BODY MOVEMENT, no shoulder rocking, and no wrist-bend

Instead he should set-up like this:

Pic 3


Quick-Fix Putting Solution. 

Playing a tournament and cannot putt? Always missing short putts?

Here’s a FIVE-STEP putting-solution:

  1. Line up from behind the ball – the human eye does not judge direction well side-on
  2. Make sure your shoulders are square – ie facing the ball, NOT the target
  3. DO NOT rotate the shoulders during the backswing, and ESPECIALLY NOT during the follow-through
  4. KEEP the head looking at the ground and HOLD the FINISH POSITION. COUNT TO FIVE before you look
  5. Practice keeping the head locked in place from address to impact, and try to ‘call the shot’. That means say ‘too much’, ‘too little’ or ‘just right’ aloud – merely by the FEEL of your swing – BEFORE you look to see if your ball’s in the hole!

Picture for Step 1

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 2.28.17 PM

Picture for Step 2

Pic 4

Picture for Step 4

Pic 5


Pitch vs Chip – when to

The comment about chipping, by a visitor to this blog who hosts a chipping website, prompted this post. What is the difference between a ‘chip’ and a ‘pitch’ shot and when should one use which one?

Basically between the two shots, they can be used to describe most shots which comprise the ‘short game’ in golf (bunker shots and putts are a part of the short game, not being discussed here).

What is the ‘short game’? It can be defined in a number of ways:

1.Distance from ball to hole – any shot within a certain distance to the hole – say 80-100 yards, (but this definition may not be accurate for shorter hitters).

2.Type of club used – generally any shot made with a putter, sand or pitching wedge, comprises short game, (although a driver or long iron may also be used in some types of short-game shots)

3.Type of swing used – any shot less than a full-swing. (However, sometimes a swing less than a full-swing may also be used when not being a part of short game, such as a punch shot when a ball is in a divot.)

The best definition then, might be that short-game emphasizes accuracy, and involves at least one of the elements of distance from ball to hole; type of club used; and type of swing used.

The MGSS definition of what a ‘chip’ is versus what a ‘pitch shot’ is, is that a ‘chip’ shot imparts a ball-loft similar to the loft of the club. If more loft is created than can be normally imparted to the ball, the shot might be called a ‘pitch shot’.

So, if one uses a sand wedge and keeps the back-and-through swings low (no wrist or elbow bend in either direction), a great deal of loft will be imparted to the ball, (because of the natural loft of the sand wedge) but could still be termed a ‘chip’ shot.

A pitch shot could be a smaller-than-full-swing (partial swing) and which imparts greater loft to the ball than a chip shot, for a similar length of backswing arms movement.

The extra height imparted to the ball by the pitch shot, requires a steep swing arc. With the MGSS, steepness should never be created from the wrists (because they ‘uncock’ at a sensitive time during the downswing, leading to inconsistency). It is performed as a miniature version of the full-swing, by standing closer to the ball, more upright, and with a narrower stance. Just as the left arm climbs steeply up the chest wall during the back-swing, the right arm must do the same for an ultra-high, soft pitch.

The body and head are key to short game success, and should never move out of their position of address.

Why this detailed explanation of what a chip vs what a pitch is? Sadly, even very skilled golfers who’ve been playing for decades make poor chip/pitch selection decisions.

The best plan is to use a ‘chip’ stroke whenever possible. With the most lofted clubs, even a chip stroke can impart a lot of height. If your answer to the question, “Will the ball clear the green-bank with a chip-style stroke, and more importantly, have enough run in it to reach the hole?” is yes, then CHIP.

Played with a golfer who’s been playing for over 4 decades today. He used a sand wedge from the edge of a very flat green (a bit of thick grass, nothing very tough) to a hole 20 yards away. Also from 10 yards back, with 15 yards of green to work with. The result? Each time the ball was 10 feet short of the hole! Why not simply roll a PW or 9-iron all the way up to the hole, with minimum loft?


The Chip Shot – how to set-up for success, then make the simplest, LEAST COMPLEX, possible movement.

Many golfers have a narrow, open stance for the chip shot.

This often places the right (trail) knee facing targetwards, and thus drops excessive body-weight down through the right side, making it easy to hit behind the ball on occasion, when the main requirement of the chip shot is to contact the ball first and the ground later! This applies even more when standing with the targetward foot higher than the trail foot, on an uphill lie.

The chip shot should be a very simple straight arms back and past move [as described in detail in the ebook DIY (do-it-yourself) GOLF].

If a golfer makes the typical ‘stand and turn’ move it looks like the set-up and swing in the pictures below, and is then subject to much inconsistency, depending on how much a golfer stands (the club connects higher on the ball than it should) and turns (the club connects closer to upper right quadrant than lower right quadrant of the ball). The originators of the stand-and-turn move (probably the dog-wags-the-tail brigade) did not know that if a golfer plans to put ‘x’ amount of force into a chip shot, only a part (cosine) of it will go into the ball with the stand-and-turn move. Why do we not stand-and-turn during a pool/billiards/snooker shot? In order to hit the center of the ball and make it go straight!

So, see the simple back and past move John makes ‘after’ and his far better results with a more effortless and more repeatable move.

The Chip and Putt Shots

About a quarter century or more ago, a very simple description existed for how a chip or putt shot ought to be made. Some described it as a pendulum-type movement, and others as a simple back and through movement of the arms.

Then along came a golf guru who said, “the dog must wag the tail, not the tail the dog”. Now the whole world rocks the big muscles of the shoulders, even for a 3 foot putt on 15 stimp greens; and makes what I call a ‘stand-up-and-turn-to-finish’ followthrough for even the smallest chip shot.

Well, Mr Golf Guru, a simple question for you about the dog. What if it had a tiny pesky fly at the tip of its tail? Would it have to move its entire body to shake the tail to dislodge that tiny fly? Or would it need simply a small movement of the tail? Are you aware of the numbers and sequencing of muscles that go into making a ‘rock-the-shoulders’ putt?

Look at the following ‘shoulder-rock’. This golfer goes from nice level shoulders at address to an elevated left side through impact.

The more follow-through the golfer needs (for greater length of putt), the more she must raise/rock her left shoulder, and the higher the club climbs, so that not all the power intended for the ball actually goes into it! (for a putt the club is supposed to connect the ball at its equator and be slightly on the upswing, but all this rocking makes it connect far above the equator!). The golfer then does not hear the sweet sound of pure impact, nor see the ball roll perfectly – end over end.

In anatomical terms, instead of a mere abduct-adduct of the upper-arm at the shoulder joint (ie. arms to the right then to the left), the ‘shoulder rock’ movement requires the entire spine, and thus involves even the hips and the knees), and includes a lateral flexion of the trunk plus an elevation of the shoulders (see picture below right).

Never mind the anatomy. In golf, as in life, LESS IS MORE.


The Long/Broomstick Putter

A fairly successful user of the long-putter described what he tries to do with his long putter – he simply rocks his shoulders.

The MGS response to that: most golfers feel that when they rock their shoulders, it is a movement around the sternum. However, this move was surely (as many in golf are) described by some famous teacher’s or player’s ‘feel’ on the subject, it certainly is not scientific, for 2 reasons:

1. There is no rod going through the sternum from front to back around which the shoulders can ‘rock’. The movement is actually a lateral flexion, and can vary each time, depending on which parts of the spine the golfer ‘rocks’ in any one particular swing – cervical, thoracic, lumbar, even sacral (- that is, starting from the neck and going down towards the base of the spine).

As the minimalist swing is all about giving every swing a maximum margin within which to err, by making minimum movements, rocking the shoulders is a big no-no – for ANY putter!

2. So, with the lead hand touching the chest (to stabilize the long-putter against), why have an axis (point) of rotation different from that hand itself?

A much simpler and more reliable movement is one where the trail (right, usually) arm simply takes the club back to the required minimal distance (no more and certainly no less) and then allows the follow-through to happen!

Watch out for the trail arm straightening out through impact. The trail elbow must retain the same angle it was set-up at, during the follow-through.

4 Responses to this post.

  1. Tom Graber's Gravatar

    Posted by Tom Graber on 25.04.12 at 1:40 pm

    Hmmm. This makes sense. I will work on this tomorrow! I must say, using MGS , I am getting more consistent and long off the tee. Thanks Kiran.

  2. chipping lessons's Gravatar

    Posted by chipping lessons on 25.04.12 at 1:40 pm

    Awesome information on MGS Short Game « Kiran Kanwar… It is really one of the most
    reliable that I’ve read through in a very long time.
    I have been awaiting this content.

  3. Tony Bumstead's Gravatar

    Posted by Tony Bumstead on 25.04.12 at 1:40 pm

    In the set-up for a putt do you advocate turning the right shoulder back as in the full swing, or should it remain square to the target line?

  4. YourGolfGuru's Gravatar

    Posted by YourGolfGuru on 25.04.12 at 1:40 pm

    If you’ve understood the main MGSS putting requirements from the ebook, then all else being correct, the shoulders should remain square.
    The shoulders can be twisted very slightly so the golfer feels it matches their set-up pattern for the chip, pitch and full-swing and more importantly as a means to prevent an out-to-in backswing club-path, but this is all subjective and dependent on other swing/stroke factors.

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