Extending the 3 X 3 X 3 Short Game System

Using the 8-I and 5I for Gravity Shots

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There's more than one way to skin a cat and there's more than one way to approach a green.  Typically the strategic goal on a par 5 is to leave your 2nd shot a full swing distance for a short iron.  But, there are times when a  full swing approach shot into the green is not the best strategy.  There are other times when we cannot reach the green with an approach shot.  To get the most out of your game, both skilled and less skilled players need some extra options.  A good mental/course management strategy is to play the easiest, highest confidence shot you have in the bag.

Developing an extended/complete short game begins with the concept of the Gravity Swing.  Essentially this is nothing more than a 3/4 backswing with light swing pressure going down into the ball.  The idea is to allow gravity to do most of the muscular work.

Gravity swings:  Once the simple motion of a less than full swing shot is learned, it is possible to convert one swing motion into multiple shots.  To do this you must understand the variables that can be manipulated  These are the 3 X 3 X 3 variables ... club choice, grip length, backswing length

The two left hand images shows the swing motion for an Intermediate length pitch shot.  The backswing goes to about belt high with reduced wrist cock (perhaps a little more than shown in the image).  The forward swing is longer than the backswing.  The two right hand images show the movement for a long pitch.  The key to both shots is to have an accelerating swing motion.  Proof of this acceleration is seen when the followthru is longer than the backswing


Anytime you go past the 3/4 backswing position by cocking the wrists, you add a small element of additional skill.  At this point in the 3 X 3 X 3 system we have reached the limit of how far the ball can be moved with a full length grip, pitching wedge loft and 3/4 swing technique.  The choice is to go to a full swing or to find another way to attack the pin. 

In these circumstances you might consider playing a less than full swing, 3/4 backswing, gravity shot as the safest way to play.  This is a relatively simple task of changing the club.  You don't want to change swing mechanics, but you need to reach your target.  You want to go to a shorter club and less lofted club than for your longest pitch shot.  This accomplished by dropping down two clubs from a GW to an 8 iron and shortening your grip on the handle.  A choked 8 iron will fly lower and roll out slightly further than a 3/4 wedge.  This is a control shot for when your swing is balky or for when it is windy.  Think of two grip positions ... medium/short and medium long.

The swing motion is identical as that for a 3/4, gravity swing wedge shot.  The first key is to delay your wrist cock and to limit your backswing to the 3/4 upswing position you would have for normal full swing.  The wrist cocking you will need for good timing is naturally generated on the downswing.  You task is to simply lift the handle of the club up to the 3/4 upswing position.


The transition and forward swing are where you gain control over the ball flight trajectory.  The key to the transition is to allow gravity to drop your arms and the club on the back of the ball.  You apply only enough muscle to stabilize the club. The two images on the right side present the two types of followthru used for either a higher flying, shorter rolling, L to R cut shot or for a lower flying, longer rolling, R to L knockdown shot.  These motions are slightly exaggerated for illustration purposes. 

The Knockdown is executed by playing the ball back near the center of your stance, by strongly closing your shoulder and knee alignment and aiming the clubface slightly to the right of your target.  Thru impact, your hands roll your thumbs over the top of the shaft at the waist high, to a chopped off, target side followthru position  (middle image).  This closes the clubface through impact resulting in a low flying draw that will release and role more than normal. 


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Copyright 1992  [CraftSmith Golf Enterprises].  All rights reserved.  Revised: January 15, 2016