Nancy Quarcelino, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher, LPGA National Teacher of the Year, owner of Nancy Quarcelino School of Golf, and long time V1 Pro ambassador stopped by recently to answer some tough questions about short game. Have a question you’d like answered by a V1 Pro? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When do I start working on short game with a new student?
In our Women’s Beginner program, we start at the putting green and work away from the hole. This gives the student immediate feedback on the easiest golf technique working up to full swing. In a private lesson setting, a new golfer may call themselves novice but have played/practiced for some time. We prefer to start them with putting, then low shots around the green, then the higher shots.
Do you advise people to use a lob wedge or sand wedge as their primary wedge for short game shots?
It depends. Some golfers do not have a higher lofted club (lob/60 degree). They will have a Pitching wedge (PW), maybe an Approach wedge (AW), hopefully a sand wedge (SW) and maybe a low wedge (LW). If the ball around the green is on tight, short turf, we advise them to use a lower bounce in their wedges, which puts them into either the PW, AW or LW. The SW will be the go to club in longer grass around the green and in the bunker. The golfers need to know their loft and bounce angle so they can make the correct choice.
What’s a common flaw/mistake you see in short game? What can golfers do right now to correct it?
The most common mistake is twofold – they either hit the ground before they hit the ball, leaving the ball short of the green (we call it “fat”) or they hit the ball over the green and do not get under the ball with the face of the club (we call that “thin”). The set up is the key to hitting the ball correctly. Narrow the stance, open the target foot, play the ball back in your stance (off your trail foot), and let your arms hang soft, then keep your belly button and your nose in front of the golf ball at set up.
What kind of importance do you place on short game with your golf students?
When golfers want to lower their scores, the short game is the place to start. But in reality, many golfers want more distance, control of that distance/direction, and always ask to be more consistent. I am giving more and more short game help to golfers now than ever before. They see the importance if they truly track their progress.
In one of your videos you mentioned grass growing back from the winter and the effect that has around the green. Can you explain that a little more?
In the winter Bermuda grass lies dormant and doesn’t grow. The grass is always very thin and grows in when the weather turns warmer. Some golf course overseed with Rye grass which makes the grass thicken up (Augusta National – The Masters does this). If they overseed with Rye, that grass will die off when it gets to warmer temperatures and the Bermuda will thicken up.
I had a lesson yesterday and it was all about their fear of hitting the ball on the tighter lie because their grass has not grown in yet. The importance of choosing a club with the proper bounce angle becomes much more in play here.
Nancy’s closing thoughts? “Putt when you can, chip when you cannot putt, pitch when you cannot chip”.
Watch this video to see how Nancy approaches short pitch shots with tight lies:
Want to get more content from Nancy Quarcelino? Four new drills from Nancy were added to the V1 Golf app this week! Download V1 Golf to view these drills and other drills produced by top golf instructors specially for the V1 Golf community.