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The evolution of the modern short game

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updated 21 Aug 2023

The evolution of the modern short game

Parker McLachlin, aka @ShortGameChef, is a PGA Tour winner and short game coach for Keith Mitchell, Collin Morikawa, Anna Nordqvist and more top players.

Parker talks us through how the short game has changed, particularly the conditions. The ground has changed, the grass has changed. They used to play through thick grass. The modern player is playing through tighter grass, tighter lies with faster greens He goes into Jack Nicklaus gamer wedge being 58 degree with 17 degrees of bounce. So short game instruction has not evolved with this.

The parallel would be drivers. Back in the day wooden drivers with balata balls you would not want to hit up on the ball, you would want to be level. But the instruction has caught up with the technology and the state of driving, we now know, in the current state of things, that we need to hit up on the ball to drive the ball well.

In '09 the USGA changed the rules around grooves, they got smaller, you could no longer have a stabby, spinny shot that would check up, stopped checking up, it started to roll past the whole. This brought in the era of shallowing out your angle of attack, using the bounce, more neutral hands at impact.

Steve Stricker is the canonical modern pitcher of the golf ball. Being really shallow through impact, taking the hands out, and having really great distance control.