Shane Lowry is a magician around the greens. The Irishman’s uncanny ability to get up and down from the most awkward of situations makes him the envy of many of his peers. His skills with a wedge even earned him 2015 Shot of the Year on the European Tour, where he carved a miracle shot through the trees to set up his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational win.
However, Lowry admits his technique isn’t the best and stresses that only constant practice turned him into the man with the golden touch. Here are his top tips to help you get up and down more often.
1. Make sure you put the time and effort in
There’s just no substitute for that. I spent a lot of time around the greens chipping when I was a kid and I think that’s where I’ve got my good short game from. I still spend a lot of time on it – and I love doing it – and you can’t beat that.
2. Good technique is not the be-all-and-end-all
I’m not a great technical player, I never have been. As I say, I spend a lot of time on the chipping green and make sure I put the time in. Obviously you need a decent technique, but with repetition you can have an imperfect one and still teach yourself to successfully and consistently get up and down.
3. Variety is definitely the spice of this part of golfing life
I like trying different stuff and shots and my good friend Padraig Harrington is just the same. You could stand there with a bag of balls and hit 100 chip shots in a row, but you need to vary it up and hit a variety of shots, including the hardest up and downs you can find, and keep doing it until you’ve mastered them all. Keep doing that and you’ll be suitably rewarded on the course.
4. Keep it fun… but competitive
Padraig and myself spend a lot of time together
chipping against each other for $50 a time. You can’t substitute that. It means something and it really sharpens you up. The first to 10 (closest to the hole) wins and we’re about 50-50 at the moment. You might win 10-nil, but nobody has done that so far. You need to enjoy it and you can do this with one or two of your friends. Another fun game is where you have nine holes and try and achieve nine up and downs with three hard, three medium and three easy shots. I’d aim for one or two over.
5. Work on your weaknesses
Padraig might say he wants to work on 50-yarders that week so we’ll have a few of those. Currently I feel that my neutral and my draw chip shots are quite good, but I feel I struggle to cut one into a back right flag from 20-30 yards and this is something I’m working on now. I’m hitting chips with my pitching wedge because there’s less loft on it, meaning you have to cut it a little bit more.
6. Have a favourite yardage
The key is knowing exactly how far you hit your wedges: my favourite yardage would be a 110-yarder and I’ll probably hit that pin high nine times out of 10 and once you hit it pin high, you’re always going to have a chance of making it.
7. Watch your speed
Playing in from 50-60 yards, you see a lot of amateurs make a long swing and decelerate and end up either duffing or thinning it. You should have a short swing with a lot of speed, taking the club back to nine o’clock and driving through it. That’s where you create your spin from.
8. In greenside bunkers, you’ve got to pick a landing area
You see a lot of amateurs trying to lift the ball in the air, but you’ve got to focus on getting your weight on the left side and aiming a little bit square at the target. You see guys aiming too far left and chopping across the ball, which leads to an inconsistent strike. Square up your stance, weight on your left side and go from there.
9. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take your medicine
I see a lot of amateurs dropping shots going for the career shot when even I’d be very happy to get the ball within 10ft – you’ve got to be realistic. For amateurs, get it within 20ft and you’ve got a chance of a putt. You don’t have to try and hole every shot around the green – you need to give yourself the best chance of holing the putt, so look at where you want to leave yourself and take into account whether it’s likely to be an uphill or downhill putt. You have to be smart about it.
10. Finally, be a master on the greens
Look at the best putters around such as Jordan Spieth, who’s ball-striking consistency is second to none. I know he spends so much time on the putting greens. I’ve got a practice drill where I use a temporary chalk line and putt for 10 minutes on that a day, aiming to hole every putt for 10 minutes. I feel if I can hole a straight 10-footer I can hole most putts. There are many different putting strokes – Spieth and Brandt Snedeker both have quick strokes – so you just need to find a stroke that works for you and stick with it.