The Lob Shot
By T.J. TOMASI
Around the greens, it’s best to keep the ball on the ground whenever feasible because it’s easier to judge a rolling ball than a high flying one. Thus the lob — a pitch that’s high and soft with little roll — is the last shot you should use. Your strategy should be: “Putt it first; if you can’t putt it, chip it; if you can’t chip it, pitch it; and only when you have to, do you lob it.”
But even though the lob shot is the hardest to judge, there are some situations, such as playing over trouble (bunkers, water, etc.) to a tucked pin, where you need a high, soft shot.
The key is to make a silky, flowing swing, moving the clubface with the rotation of your body, absent any manipulation by your arms or hands. Since your body leads the way throughout your swing, your clubhead stays trapped behind you and therefore remains open through impact, allowing the bounce on the bottom of your sand wedge to slide gently under the ball as you swing to a full finish.
Since the lob shot stops primarily due to its high arc, position your ball just forward of center in your stance. Make sure the butt end of your golf club is in the mid-line of your body.
With your heels a little less than hip width apart, open your stance so your body is open to the target, anchoring the majority of your weight in your front hip joint and establishing it as the rotational center throughout your swing. Once your setup is complete, the operational word that governs your swing is rotation.
Start your swing by simply turning your chest away from the target so that everything moves away from the ball as a unit. Unlike the normal pitch shot, make sure to cock your wrists early; your mantra here is “low hands-high clubhead,” a condition that unlocks the loft of the clubface. Note that in executing the lob shot, there is a turn, but no weight shift.
Your downswing is characterized by the sweet surrender to gravity, a phrase I use to emphasize the absence of manipulation as you allow your clubhead to fall to the ball — this means (1) no lateral body motion, (2) keeping your head behind the ball, and (3) certainly no hitting with your hands. If you simply rotate your body around your front hip, your clubhead comes to impact with a slightly open face, perfect for a high, soft lob.
The lob shot requires a long backswing plus a long follow-through; think of it as “long to long.” But remember, your arms must move at a slow but constant pace with no bursts of power.
The tough part of the lob shot is convincing yourself that you can take such a long swing for such a short shot. To get your brain used to the length and nonviolence of the swing, practice hitting a lot of 10- to 20-yard lobs until you can produce the high, soft trajectory every time.