Having a number of shots in your locker that you can pull off when required not only leads to lower scores but makes you a more competitive golfer, a player who is hard to beat.
If you want to start this season on the right path, try perfecting the following four shots. Being able to execute these shots 'on demand' will make you a better golfer and, more importantly, a much more confident golfer.
The knock-down (pic above) is a shot to have when you’re playing in the wind or under a wee bit of pressure.
The benefit of this shot is that your dispersion rate will come down quite a bit, so you have less chance of spraying it all over the place. You’re compressing the ball a bit better through impact.
I usually make a couple of adjustments to my set-up. I open my stance slightly, which allows me to turn through the ball easier through impact. I have my left foot withdrawn a little bit, which makes it easier for me to turn onto my left side.
I also grip down slightly for more control of the club and, as you can see, everything is pretty stable through impact. My left arm and club are in line with each other.
I keep the clubhead very low after impact, driving my weight onto my left side to try to keep as stable as possible. It’s a slightly shorter follow through, where you don’t have to release the clubhead as much.
You’ll see tour players hit this shot a lot at the Open due to the conditions. You may even see them hit a little knock-down fade, but never a draw, because this shot encourages you to hold it off.
The safety shot
My safety shot is my 3-wood. I know that, when I take my driver out, I sometimes get a little quick, a bit fast, I’m trying to hit it too far.
By taking out my 3-wood I'm immediately thinking about control, getting into a better position, swinging in balance and getting good rhythm.
It’s subconscious. As soon as I put my hands on that club, I get confident. It’s my go-to club.
A safety shot is one shot you must get down. It can work wonders when your game is struggling and you're in need of a confidence-booster.
The high pitch
This is a great shot to have if you need to get out of trouble, or over a hazard, or if you want a soft landing to a tight pin position. This is also one that can come in handy on firm greens.
It’s a great shot to have in your locker. I would have the ball positioned between the middle and front of my stance, and set up with a little bit of weight on the left side. The main thing for me is that when you’re coming through impact, you need to try to keep the same level of loft that you started with.
The clutch putt
Confidence with putting is huge - and you only get that from holing putts. To hole more putts, especially those from around eight to ten feet, you need some good solid basics and something you can repeat time and again.
Here, my hands are directly in line with the ball and I’ve got the classic 'V' shape between the shoulders, arms and hands. That stays consistent throughout the whole stroke.
You don’t want to flick your wrists. You want to stay stable together. You want to be relaxed but stable.
You always want to keep your head still on the way back and through. The only parts moving should be your shoulders and arms.
If you’re practicing, you should be spending something like 60% to 70% of your time on your short game. Out of that, the majority of your time should be spent on your putting.
If you shoot 85, chances are just under half of those strokes are going to be from putting. As I come into impact, I’m basically recreating the same position at address. Notice how my head hasn’t moved after I’ve hit the ball. The more stable you are from around ten feet, the more chance you have of holing out.
Andy Carlton is the Head PGA Professional at Paisley Golf Club. For lessons, call Andy on 0141 884 4114. Follow him on Twitter @PaisleyPro.