PGA Championship Tip-Getting Off The Collar

The best club to hit from just off the green or up against the collar of the rough is not the putter. In fact, putter is probably the LAST thing that should be pulled from the bag.

Ridgemont Head Pro Ben Wilson prescribes a hybrid shot to cure woes from inches off the putting surface. It doesn't matter whether the flag is close or far away.

The swing is not hard to master. Slide the hands down a couple inches, stand a bit closer to the ball with the feet closer together and make a putting stroke. The rounded sole of the hybrid makes it easier to slide through the top of the grass and make clean contact.

Amateurs struggle with using a wedge on these shots because "there's a lot of indecision as to how far to bring the club back or how to his this precise shot," Wilson says. The result is often deceleration and a chunked shot.

One thing to keep in mind is that the ball will come off the fast much hotter than when using a wedge. "You have to adjust your stroke that way," Wilson says. "That's always done on the practice range."

When the ball is up against the collar, most high handicap players will use a putter. As described above, this is far from the proper solution. "The long grass behind the golf ball tends to slow the putter down and can cause the ball to go offline," Wilson says. He teaches the best play in this situation is with a wedge. Any wedge will do.

The goal is to use the leading edge of the club to contact the ball at its equator. The bounce in a wedge will help keep it slightly off the ground and--much like the hybrid--let the club slide through the grass.

The higher the grass, the more often the bladed wedge shot will get used. "I think you'll see it at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship," Wilson says. It's a shot amateurs can employ as a stroke-saver too, if they get over the fear of "using a club for short shots that's not made for short shots," Wilson says.

Wilson is a member of the Western New York PGA Section.

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