The Proper Way to Adjust Your Shot Height

By John Elliott, Jr.

One of the most challenging opportunities that we have in the game of golf is the various types of shot that we have to play. Regretfully I see a lot of players continually playing the same shot all the time, especially a short game shot to a green. Let me show you three different options you have simply by altering your follow-through and set up.

How to Hit Low, Medium and High Shots

We would call this low, medium and high. I have set a shaft up in front of me so that you can see when I set up where the ball is going to be, where my sternum is going to be and where my handle is going to be. I am going to alter those three parts to effect what the golf ball is going to do.

Medium Shot

In setting up to hit a medium shot I try to get the three parts; the ball, the handle and the sternum, directly in line. Medium also means to me the same amount of motion on both sides of my body during the swing. I swing equally back and forward and that will hit the ball on a medium trajectory. But we don't always want to play medium height, sometimes we want to play the ball higher than that, so now we will set up for a high shot.

High Shot

As I set up for high, the ball is now forward of center, my sternum is now behind the ball and the handle of the club is now between the ball and my sternum. The mere connotation of the word 'high' means finish up. That shot went about fifteen feet higher and the same distance as my medium shot because the one thing I am not changing is the length of my backswing; that affects my distance. What affects my trajectory is my set up and finish.

Low Shot

Now let's move to the third shot, and this should be the shot that you play the most. I place the ball back and lean the handle and my sternum forward so I am now braced over my front leg. The idea is that I am going to hit this shot low, so my finish is going to be low as well. Now when I make my swing that ball goes about half as high as medium. So it is kind of interesting, low goes low, medium goes about twice as high as low, and then the highest one goes even higher than those two.

How to Alter Set Up and Follow Through

Did I change my backswing to do that? No, what I did was change my set up and my follow-through. You should get your mind to say I want to get my finish to match my shot intent. If I intend to hit the ball low then I finish down. If I want to hit the shot medium then I finish out, and if I intend to hit it high then I finish up.

The other variable is in your set up, where you are always altering where your sternum is, where the handle is and where the handle is depending on the type of shot you want to play. Please don't get stuck in the rut of always playing the same shot into the green. What ends up happening is that it is not going to work sometimes because it is the wrong shot. This will help you with your scores tremendously and also help you with your full swing.

Category: Trajectory
Sub Categories: High Shots, Low Shots

About the Instructor

John Elliott, Jr.
John Elliott, Jr.
St. Andrews Golf & Country Club
3N441 Route 59
West Chicago, IL 60185
Tel: 630-231-3160

John Elliott, Jr., is listed as one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers and Golf Digest's #39 instructor in the world. He is the head professional at the Country Club of Ocala in Ocala, Florida.