Fat City Is Not an Option

By Dave PelzJanuary 21, 2002, 5:00 pm
Dave Pelz

After hitting a fat shot (hitting too far behind the ball), most golfers say they got too anxious and 'looked up.' Not only do they say that, they believe it.

When I measure their swings and ball positions, however, I usually find they are playing the ball too far forward in their stance and are making swing compensations with their hands in an attempt to hit the ball cleanly from that incorrect ball position. They go to 'Fat City' not because they look up, but because their balls are positioned too far forward in their stances.

The problem is, these same golfers can hit good shots after a few adjustment swings on the practice tee, after they have a chance to get their compensations and timing correct. But what happens as a result of practicing with poor ball position is that they develop habits of knee dips and wrist flips as they attempt to make solid contact with a ball theyve placed two to three inches in front of where it should be. Then, when they get into pressure situations on the golf course where the first swing counts, the ultimate result is usually the same - poor wedge shots hit fat under pressure.
Be sure you understand the situation:
  1. Good wedge swings produce good shots only when the ball is positioned correctly in your stance.
  2. Play the ball too far forward and youll either hit it fat or be forced to learn 'hand-powered' swing compensations that will make you generally less consistent, and specifically, worse under pressure.
  3. Play the ball too far back and you have about a two-inch margin of error, from which you can still hit playable shots with non-compensating swings, although they will fly a little lower than you desire.

Perfect Contact

You can never learn a non-compensating wedge swing without first learning proper ball position, because only the correct position allows a non-compensating swing to produce solid contact and good shots. Remember these important rules for ball position:
  1. For chip shots, position the ball back in your stance, off the back ankle. You want to hit the ball with a descending blow, trapping a minimal amount of grass between the clubhead and the ball, creating a low, running trajectory.
  2. For all distance-wedge and pitch shot swings from normal lies, when you expect a normal trajectory, position the ball in the exact center of your stance (centered between your ankles, not your toes). Your front foot should be turned toward the target by about 30 to 45 degrees, so the ball should appear to be somewhat back in your stance.
  3. In the bunker, you want to contact the sand behind the ball. Scoot the club under and past the ball, and use the sand to blow the ball out. To hit behind a ball from a good bunker lie, first aim to the left and open your clubface, then position the ball forward in your stance, inside the heel line of your front (toward the target) foot.

Placing the ball in the center or behind the center of your stance in the sand is terrible, because it forces you to move your natural swing bottom (divot) backward, which can be accomplished only by collapsing your wrists or leaning backward and creating a reverse weight shift (neither of which will work consistently).

Most golfers start with the ball too far forward on their wedge shots, particularly chips and pitches, and too far back in the sand. Nearly 80 percent of our Scoring Game School students, even some of the Tour pros, come to our schools with the ball ahead of the swings natural low point on 30-yard pitches and chip shots. Thats why so many of these shots are hit fat. The results worsen when the shot is important: Under pressure, hand and wrist muscles get stronger and tighter, inhibiting the players ability to manipulate them (to compensate for the bad ball position), so they cant accurately control where the divot occurs.

As a result of several years of testing at the Pelz Golf Institute, learning how golfers can best avoid 'Fat City' wedge results, we have developed the following two solutions.
  1. Learn to position your golf ball perfectly in your stance (back ankle for chip shots, mid-stance for pitch shots, forward on lead foot instep for sand shots) and then make pure, non-compensating swings, OR
  2. Close your eyes and take a practice swing next to your ball, and make sure you take a divot. Then move into your address position and position the ball where it will be hit before the start of your divot (assuming you can then swing the same as your practice swing).

Of course, your best short game solution is to come to a three-day Pelz Scoring Game School, a one-day Scoring Game Tour clinic, or watch my Dave Pelz Scoring Game Show on The Golf Channel Academy every week. Barring any of these, just close your eyes and learn to position the ball so you hit the little (golf) ball before you hit the big ball (Earth). Because 'Fat City' is not an option!
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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson


9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood


Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey


Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.