Short Game

Rory McIlroy shows how to ‘check and release’ a wedge shot from off the green

4-time major champion Rory McIlroy demonstrates a classic 'check and release' wedge shot, helping players improve in the short game

Who better than a 4-time major champ like Rory McIlroy to learn some short game tips from?


How many times have you faced a wedge shot from a tight lie to a short-sided hole location about 15 yards off the green and immediately found yourself stressed out? If you’re anything like me, it probably happens more times than you’d like to admit.

At first glance, this shot should be simple, right? It’s a mere 45 feet from the putting surface, so would could possibly go wrong?

To be blunt; a lot.

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Pick the wrong club or the wrong shot? You’ll risk coming up either too short or going too long. Miss something in your fundamentals? You bring chunking or blading it into the equation.

But if you do pull the shot off, you’ll be saving strokes over your competition. Good news: four-time major champion Rory McIlroy is here to make things easier for you, and demonstrates in the video below how to master the check-and-release shot that so many pros use to navigate these tricky situations.

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As mentioned above, when an amateur deals with this situation, things can get dicey. This is something McIlroy mentions at the very beginning of the video, even saying that some players might “actually be pretty scared of it.”

“They’d either get the putter out, or they’d try to bump and run it,” he adds.

But as McIlroy says, depending on the grass type or conditions of the course you’re playing on, neither of those options might be viable.

“We’re in Florida, so the grass is really grainy. So the only thing you really can do is try to chip this ball and land it on the green, get it to check a little bit, and then hopefully release to the hole.”

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So instead of opting for either the Texas wedge or risking skipping a bump and run too far past the hole, McIlroy gives his advice on hitting the perfect check and release shot.

“What I try to do on these types of chip shots is I try to stay nice and shallow,” he adds. “I really try to avoid taking a divot.”

Next the four-time major winner walks through how to set up for this type of check and release shot, focusing on ball position first, followed by his angle of attack.

“I play the ball sort of in the middle of my stance, and I try to get pretty close to it so that the shaft is a little more vertical at address, rather than laying down.

“I stand a little bit closer to [the ball], and, from there, I really just try to rock my shoulders back and forth,” McIlroy says. “I almost feel like the club collects the ball on the way through. I really don’t try to do much else.

“I try to take a lot of wrist hinge out of it, and just go pretty rigid…almost just like a long putt.

As McIlroy hits his shot, he keeps the trajectory low and lands it softly on the front of the green, where it checks with some backspin before rolling towards the pin, ultimately leaving it within two feet from the hole.

“Try to keep it simple and, hopefully, that’ll help you hit this type of shot.”

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