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How often do your approach shots stop pin-high? Pro golfers and instructors consider this one of the major keys to scoring consistently well.

In fact, if you watch the leaders of any professional tournament, you'll notice that their iron shots finish level with the flag a high percentage of the time. This is a sign that they have great control of their swings and are able to calibrate iron shots to extremely precise distances.

To improve your control, try finishing the swing in a three-quarters position (compared with a full finish of 100 percent, where the arms are over the left shoulder and the club behind you). To do this you'll need to swing with less than full power, but don't worry about losing distance. Odds are you'll make better contact on a shot-to-shot basis, which will actually generate greater yardage than full-swing mishits.

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Remember these keys when swinging to a three-quarters finish:

  • The club should be left of your body (right-handed golfer): At the swing's completion, your right arm should cross the chest with the hands at about shoulder height, over the left shoulder.

Rotate all the way through: Don't achieve a short finish by stopping your body turn at impact. Continue rotating so that your chest faces the target as you watch the ball sail toward the flag.

Control Iron Shots with Short Finish

Control Iron Shots with Short Finish

Golfers are obsessed with distance. You probably know that to be true already – because you are probably in that category yourself. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to hit the ball a long distance, there is much more to this game than just raw power. In fact, it is control and the ability to position your golf ball that will always have more influence on your scores than sheer distance. If you learn how to maneuver the ball around the course with great consistency, you can shoot low scores – even if you are a short hitter.

The idea of favoring control over distance is particularly important when thinking about your irons. It's fine to work toward hitting your driver as far as possible, since you aren't trying to hit a precise target with that club. In the case of your iron shots, however, you are usually taking aim at the flag. In order to hit the ball close on a regular basis, you have to control your shots nicely. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can use a short finish on your iron swings in order to add control to those shots. You will have to be willing to sacrifice a bit of distance on some of your iron shots to make this work, but that trade will be worth it when you find yourself with more birdie putts than ever before.

Before you dismiss the idea of using a short finish on your iron shots due to a loss of distance, it is important to note that you won't need to use this technique on all of your iron shots. For many iron shots you encounter on the course, you will be able to make a 'normal' swing, moving into a full finish and sending the ball high into the sky. However, when you want to prioritize control over all else – such as when you are hitting a wedge to a difficult hole location – opting for the short finish is the way to go. Basically, this is a great weapon to have at your disposal. You won't always use it, but it can be a great help when you decide to put it into action.

It might sound simple enough to just cut off the follow through of your swing when hitting an iron, but this is something that you need to practice before you actually use it on the course. Your ball flight is going to be altered significantly when you cut off the finish, and you will need to get comfortable with this technique in order to make solid contact. You don't have to hit thousands of balls on the range to learn this shot, but attempting it cold on the course is a recipe for failure. You should always prepare yourself for the shots you are going to attempt on the course, and the story is no different when it comes to the short finish iron shot.

All of the instruction provided below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Benefits of a Short Finish

The Benefits of a Short Finish

There are a number of reasons why you would want to think about cutting off your finish with an iron shot. It might seem like the finish position you reach wouldn't matter much, since the ball is already gone from the face of the club. That is not the case, however. Your finish position does matter, as it is an indication of the swing which led up to that point. If you focus on using a short finish on your iron swing, you will wind up altering the rest of your technique as well.

Before getting into the details on how to hit this kind of shot, we are going to highlight a few of the key advantages below.

  • Flight the ball lower. One of the main reasons to hit an iron shot with a short finish is to bring your ball flight down closer to the ground. Hitting the ball lower is advantageous in many situations, such as when you are playing on a windy day. Or, if you are trying to access a hole location in the back of the green, you can use a lower flight to bounce the ball toward the back of the putting surface. Every golfer should know now to bring their ball flight down on command, and using a short finish is a great way to do just that.
  • Take distance off the shot. If you find yourself in between clubs for a particular approach shot, you may decide to cut off your follow through in order to take a few yards off the flight. Most amateur golfers take the shorter club and swing harder in this situation, but that is the wrong choice. By making an easy swing with a longer club, you can control your trajectory and limit the spin rate you produce. The skill of controlling your distances with iron shots is something that will prove valuable time and time again on the course.
  • Encourage solid contact. A swing which leads to a short finish is usually a compact, repeatable action. For that reason, this kind of swing is excellent for helping you achieve solid contact at impact. On a shot where you absolutely need to strike the ball cleanly – such as when you are playing over a hazard – opt for a short finish and focus on contacting the back of the ball before you take any turf out of the ground. Also, this is a great way to go about playing a shot from a poor lie. When you draw a bad lie, tightening up your finish can help you make the best of a tough situation.
  • Play well under pressure. You will be simplifying your action when you shorten up your follow through. A simple swing is great under pressure, so consider this a go-to option when the heat is on. If you notice yourself feeling a bit nervous over a particular shot, think about using one extra club and shortening your follow through to strike the shot nicely. Countless amateur players struggle to perform under pressure, a shortcoming which makes it difficult to achieve new goals on the course. Conquer your struggles with nerves by shortening your finish and you could find yourself reaching new heights in the near future.

There are many ways in which you can benefit from having a short finish in your arsenal of iron swings. One of the great things about golf is the fact that you need to use a variety of different swings to get the ball around the course. The game would be rather boring if you could just hit the same shot over and over again. Take some time on the range to work on this type of shot, with the help of the instruction provided below, and you will be a better overall golfer for the effort.

A Few Simple Changes

A Few Simple Changes

One of the keys to hitting quality iron shots with a short finish is not making too many changes to your regular swing. If you are trying to dramatically change your entire technique before putting the club in motion, negative results are sure to follow. By keeping things simple, you can adapt your normal swing to be able to produce controlled, low shots which fly directly for the target.

So, understanding that you should be making only simple, basic changes to your technique, let's get down to business. The following points are ones you should keep in mind as you attempt to learn how to hit iron shots with a short finish.

  • Choke down on the grip of the club. This is the number one key to this kind of shot. Before you think about doing anything else, you should first move your hands down the grip by an inch or two at address. This shot is all about control, and shortening the effective length of the club is going to improve the control you have over your swing. There will be other adjustments which go along with this point listed below, but for now it is important to note that you should always choke down when playing an iron shot with a short finish. Of course, learning to play shots this way will help you in a number of other areas as well, since choking down on the grip is a method commonly used by good golfers who wish to control the ball effectively.
  • Play the ball from the middle of your stance. With this point, you are going to give yourself the best possible chance to make clean contact. Since you have choked down by an inch or two, moving the ball back in your stance will put it at a point which is easy for you to reach. Should you decide to play the ball forward in your stance, you would have trouble reaching impact in a comfortable position – and your shots would struggle to find the target as a result. It is okay to move the ball slightly forward of center when hitting a longer iron with a short finish, but you should always be very close to that middle position. Also, be sure to avoid playing your shots from anywhere behind the middle of your stance. If you move the ball too far back, your angle of attack will be rather steep and the ball may balloon up into the air due to an excessive spin rate.
  • Stay on top of the ball. You should always be focused on your balance during the golf swing, but never is it more important to stay nicely balanced than when hitting one of these shots. During the backswing, be sure to stay right on top of the ball, rather than letting yourself sway to the right and away from the target. If you can stay centered, you will be in a great position to hit down aggressively on the ball. To help yourself hit on this point, remember that you are trying to rotate more than anything else in the swing. If you can rotate nicely, the rest of the swing will largely take care of itself.
  • Firm left wrist through impact. This is the key which is going to help you cut off your finish effectively. As you contact the ball, stay firm with your left wrist and don't allow your right hand to take over the action. There may be an aggressive right hand release in your normal full swing, but that release should be limited with this type of iron shot. Everything on your left side should feel firm through the hit, from your wrist all the way up into your elbow and shoulder. It is this solid left side which will help you create a low, accurate ball flight.
  • Cut off the finish! Of course, if you are trying to hit shots with a short finish, you need to actively cut off that finish so you don't wind up with a full swing at the end of the day. Of course, even a short swing isn't going to stop right at impact – you have to allow yourself to move through the ball at least somewhat before stopping the club. As a good rule of thumb, try to stop your hands when they are approximately chest high in the follow through. This is well short of a full finish, where your hands will move over your shoulders, but it still gives you enough room to swing through the ball nicely.

The list above might look a bit lengthy, but it is actually rather simple to put into action. During your next trip to the range, work on producing a few of these shots by paying attention to the points above. Start out by hitting wedge shots and gradually work your way into longer irons as you gain comfort and confidence.

Picking the Right Time

Picking the Right Time

Once you have learned how to hit these kinds of shots, there will be one question that is sure to follow – when should I hit an iron shot with a short finish? There are plenty of times to use this shot on the course, but you don't want to overdo it, either. By picking just the right time for this play, you can optimize your game and hopefully lower your scores in the process.

The list below includes a number of opportunities you may find to use this shot during your next round.

  • An approach shot in the wind. This is the most obvious time to pull the short finish out of the bag. When the wind is blowing – in any direction – it is a good idea to keep the ball down in order to improve your control. Even if you are playing downwind, you should resist the temptation to ride the breeze toward the target. Anytime the wind affects the ball, you lose control as a result. Play a low shot in this situation and take the wind out of the picture to the greatest extent possible. You might not be able to be as aggressive with your approach shots when using this strategy in the wind, but that's okay. As long as you can hit the green and set up a birdie putt, you should be happy with the shot.
  • Reaching a hole location in the back of the green. It can be difficult to get the ball all the way back to a hole location which is cut near the far end of the putting surface. If you play this kind of shot high in the air, you risk carrying the ball over the green entirely – which is usually going to be a costly mistake. To play aggressively and yet safe at the same time, try using your short finish while landing the ball in the middle of the green. Use a club that can carry the ball to the middle of the putting surface with this kind of abbreviated swing, and allow the bounce to take the shot the rest of the way to the hole. This type of play is less likely to fly way over the green, yet you could still set up a nice birdie try.
  • An approach shot from a bad lie. This point was mentioned briefly above, but it is worth highlighting again here. If you happen to draw a bad lie for an approach shot, whether in the fairway or the rough, using a short finish should help you to find the putting surface (or get as close as possible, at least). The combination of choking down on the grip and moving the ball back in your stance is perfect for promoting solid contact, which is really the key to dealing with a bad lie. Remember, you probably won't create much spin on this kind of shot, so aim for the front of the green when possible.
  • Playing over a hazard. If you are facing an approach shot where you need to hit the ball over some type of hazard, turning to your short finish swing may be a wise idea. Again, it all comes down to quality contact. Since you should be able to strike the ball cleanly with this swing on most occasions, you will have an excellent chance to keep the ball out of trouble. You don't always have to use this plan when you hit over water, but it is a good option to have in mind if you are particularly nervous about a given shot.

Shot selection is always an important skill on the golf course, and that certainly applies here when trying to decide when to use your short finish iron shots. Much of this decision is going to come down to your own personal feel in the end. As you get ready to hit a shot, what do you feel is the right way to proceed? Going with your gut instinct is almost always your best bet.

Pitching with a Short Finish

Pitching with a Short Finish

Using a short finish is not only an effective strategy when playing full shots with your iron – it can be helpful when pitching the ball onto the green as well. Pitch shots are notoriously difficult for amateur golfers to execute, which is why this method can be so helpful. You are going to carry over a lot of the same tips that were used for the full swing short finish technique, only everything will be done on a smaller scale.

In the case of pitch shots, you will want to play the ball behind the center of your stance, something that is a no-no on the full swing. Also, you will want to play from a slightly open stance, which will let you cut across the ball at impact. Cutting across the ball in a full swing is a recipe for disaster, but doing so on a pitch shot will help you to improve your spin rate.

When pitching, it remains important to keep your left side firm all the way through the shot. There should be no release of your right hand at impact, and your left wrist should be as flat as possible at the moment of contact. When you execute this technique, the ball will be trapped cleanly against the face of your wedge, and the shot should be a success.

Learning how to hit iron shots with a short finish is something that will add another layer to your overall golf game. These shots can come in handy in a variety of situations, and the shot as a whole is pretty easy to execute. As long as you take some time to work on it during practice, hitting an iron shot with short finish is something you can try on the course in the near future. With any luck, this shot will take you another step in the direction of lower scores. Good luck!