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Friday, June 26, 2015

How to Copy Jordan Spieth's Short Game Magic

Since everybody is still talking about Jordan's play at the US Open -- and since earlier this week I posted a link to a Golf Digest article on that 3-wood he hit -- I thought I'd continue the Spieth worship. Golf Digest has added yet another article on Jordan, this time specifically covering his short game -- a flop shot, a bump shot, a check shot, and his putting process. This photo is from that article.

Comparison of Jordan's bump and check wedge shots

For obvious reasons I'm not going to go over everything in the article. Jordan kept it all pretty short and I doubt I could make it any clearer. But I do want to mention a few things about the two shots pictured in this photo.

The top sequence is the bump shot you use when you short-side yourself and need to bump the ball into a slope to slow the it down. The bottom one is the check shot you use to make the ball bite and stop quickly.

Jordan says he uses his 52 wedge for the bump and his 60 wedge for the check. This makes sense because he wants the bump to fly lower and run, and the check to fly a bit higher and stop.

His stance is pretty much the same for both -- narrow stance and weight slightly more on his lead side. And in both cases he wants to hit the ball before he hits the ground.

But take a look at the differences:
  • For the bump he puts the ball back in his stance, just inside his trail foot. For the check the ball is in the middle of his stance.
  • For the bump there is little or no wrist cock on the backswing. For the check he lets his wrists cock more.
  • For the bump he wants to feel as if he's hitting down on the ball, even though he says it's okay if you hit just a bit behind the ball. For the check he wants to feel as if the club head is skimming the ground right after impact.
  • For the bump his lower body stays pretty still while his upper body swings past. For the check his hips turn along with his upper body.
And he swings slightly faster when he wants a check shot, to add more spin.

Jordan's article isn't very long but it's very detailed so you'll want to read the instructions in his own words. But I wanted to point out these minor differences so you'll understand that you don't have to make huge changes in your setup or technique to create these very different shots.

One other note: On GC's Golf Academy specials, Dave Stockton told Martin Hall that Jordan has all of his wedges -- from pitching wedge on down -- set up with much higher swingweights. (I think he said they were D6 or D7, compared to the D2 of his regular clubs. I may be off a swingweight or so, but the difference is about right.) The idea here is that Jordan's wedges feel heavier when he swings them so he makes smoother swings without swinging so hard.

Lee Trevino -- no slouch at the short game himself -- has always recommended weekend players use heavier swingweights (although only a swingweight or two, not four or five) and to do it all the way through the set. He says it makes it easier to feel the weight of the club head when you swing, which creates smoother swings.

When two short game wizards use the same trick, it's something to bear in mind.

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