Most great ball strikers (Viktor Hovland and Brooks Koepka come to mind) point the clubface toward the ground as they take it away. For long shots that’s just fine, but around the green, pointing the face down at this point in the swing turns the club into a shovel, resulting in deep divots and really fat shots.
On short shots, the trick is to give yourself some relief by contacting the ground with the club’s sole, not the leading edge. The easiest way to make this happen is to rotate the face so the toe is up on the backswing.
In the photo above, you can see that I’ve affixed a magnet to a ball attached to a red pointer, indicating where the clubface is pointed. You can clearly see that the toe of the club is up and the face is pointing away from me. At times, the clubface will point horizontally or even at a slight upward angle, depending on what loft you’re using. That’s fine — just make sure it’s not pointed down.
While this move may feel weird at first, it’ll pay off quickly in short shots that snuggle up to the cup.
John Dunigan is a GOLF Top 100 Teacher and is the director of instruction at Applebrook Golf Club, in Malvern, Pa.