Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

Steve Pace began our third golf lesson with a little bit of theory about the short game.

“Illogical as it may seem, this is the area where most scoring occurs,” Steve said. “It’s also the part least practiced by most players. But it’s the quickest way to lower your score.”

It’s hard to argue with that, especially after having many a good drive wasted with incompetence around the green. How many of us have hit a 250-yard tee shot only to take four or five more shots to cover the other 150 yards?

So I found myself sweating buckets at the practice green at Patricia Island Golf Club on Wednesday afternoon trying to learn to hit a bump and run.

“The easiest shot to hit,” Steve said. For those of you not familiar with it, the bump and run is a low shot used from just off the green. It is designed to land on the green as soon as possible, covering most of the distance rolling on the ground. It can be done with almost any club, but is usually done with an eight or nine iron, or even a pitching wedge.

The trick to this or any other finesse shot from just off the green is to keep the wrists still, making the swing with the shoulders.

“It’s the same stroke that you make with the putter,” Steve said.

Easier said than done. Fortunately Steve had a rather medieval device to ingrain the stroke. It’s actually just two clubs taped together to make one long club, but with the shaft of the top club pressed into your ribs, you get a not-so-subtle reminder that you’re not doing it right.

After that we played in the sand. Actually hitting out of a bunker requires you to swing hard into the sand about three inches behind the ball. Since hitting the ball is one of the biggest problems with my golf game.

So, covered with a gritty layer of sand, I watched as Steve taught the same lesson to his Wednesday night group. This is a group of about 10-12 ladies who meet with Steve every other Wednesday for 10 sessions spanning 20 weeks.

Assisted by Gregg Compton and David Rycroft, Steve put the ladies through the same paces that I had just been through. Some of them were pretty good at it, better than me, but many of them seemed to be struggling to control their wrists and perfect the bump and run shot.

At least I was in good company