Golf Short Game Essentials: How to Select the Right Club for Each Shot

In golf, selecting the right club is essential for executing every shot. You should know how far you hit every club in your bag with your full swing. Inside 100 yards to the hole, precision and accuracy are at a premium. Selecting the right club can help you hit the shot you want to hit to get the ball close to the hole and score well. There's no substitute for practice when it comes to acquiring the feel necessary to execute every shot you'll face in the short game.

The Texas wedge

If you're just off the green, sometimes putting the ball is a better option, rather than trying to execute a delicate pitch or chip. The term “Texas wedge” was coined by golfers in that state who played hard-packed courses with tight lies that made putting from just off the green a better choice than chipping or pitching. These days golf courses in Texas are generally in much better shape, but the “Texas wedge” is still viable in many situations.

More loft produces a higher shot with more backspin

For a situation like hitting over a bunker to a pin that's close to the edge of the green, choose a club with more loft. You'll hit the ball high with more backspin to get the ball to fly over the bunker, then land softly on the green and stop sooner.

Less loft produces a lower shot, less spin and more roll

When you have more green to work with, you may want to hit a lower shot that rolls to the hole. For that shot, select a club with less loft. Then pick a landing spot short of the hole but still on the green that allows the ball to roll out to the hole. You'll find with experience that the higher the shot, the harder it is to control. That's why whenever possible, choose the lowest-trajectory shot you can.

Guidelines to help select the right club for chipping

Instead of using just one club for every chip, try using different clubs for different length chips. Learn how far the ball carries in the air and rolls with different clubs in your set. A pitching wedge usually carries the ball about the same distance it will roll once it lands. An eight iron usually has about a 2:1 roll-to-carry ratio, a six iron has about a 4:1 ratio. Once you develop some feel, you can just pick a landing spot and have confidence the ball will roll out to the distance you want.