FIVE-MINUTE LESSON… PABLO LARRAZABAL
The 36-year-old Spaniard reveals the key secrets to his enviable short game.
How did you develop such a sharp short game?
Competitive practice growing up. I got good at chipping fast when I was a kid because there were many good players at my club and we spent a lot of time at the chipping area. I lost lots of money! Being competitive in practice will make you better under pressure.
How do you visualise the shot you need to hit?
Creativity is key. You have to create shots and see the ball rolling or pitching and stopping the way you want. It’s all about seeing it. You can play the same shot with three or four different clubs, so you have to feel what you’re most confident with.
How aggressive are you with your shot selection and expectations around the green?
I think about the percentage for success with each of the clubs I could use and that tells me what to do – high or low, release or spinny, sand wedge or 9-iron. Go with the shot that gives the highest percentage. It can be better to leave a 12-foot putt than risk too much.
Some of that must be gut instinct?
Chipping is all about sensation and what you feel in that moment. Sometimes you arrive at a tough shot and you go for it because you instantly feel it and you’re confident. When you feel good, you have more percentage of doing it right. Trust your gut instinct.
Larrazabal's Top Tip: 'Master the basic chip-and-run for a safe, reliable recovery'
Chipping the ball low so that it rolls out to the hole is the simplest and safest recovery shot around the greens. I play all my chip shots with a 60° wedge, but it behaves more like a 54° when I move the ball back in the stance.
Generally, however, I would recommend amateurs use less loft for chipping. When I was younger, I used to hit them with a variety of clubs – from my lob wedge to my 6-iron. The secret is to go to the practice area and find out what works for you, because it's a lot about feel.
The secret is in the set-up
I stand square to the target and fairly close to the ball. Playing the ball back in your stance automatically moves more weight onto your front foot and adds forward lean to the shaft. This de-lofts the club slightly, so be prepared to see the ball come out lower and with less spin.
A decent amount of bounce on the sole of your wedges will help you play this shot without the club digging too deeply into the turf.
Replicate your address position at impact
The secret to playing this shot well is pretty much replicating your address position at impact. Whereas with the flop shot you want the clubhead to actively release through the ball to add loft to the face and height, you want the exact opposite here.
Keeping your hands ahead of the ball and your weight on your leading foot will lead to a low, running shot.