Seve’s Incredible Short-Sided Hole-Out

Aaron Ungvarsky

Aaron Ungvarsky

PGA of America Professional, SwingU Instructor

A Ryder Cup stalwart even into his late 30s, Seve Ballesteros could conjure magic in the most unlikely of ways. En route to a European victory in 1995 at Oak Hill, Ballesteros showed the soft hands and keen talent that made him such a formidable foe

Known for an unparalleled short game and touch around the greens, a lot of what Seve Ballesteros did around the green can be replicated by even the novice player. The experience and hours it takes to have the perfect touch is not where we want to start, instead, let’s copy what he did at address and his basic body motion.

This incredible hole-out was a difficult shot from intermediate rough, over a bunker with a couple of feet of green to work with. Seve did not have the luxury of an ultra lofted wedge, like the 64-degree wedges players carry today. Instead, let’s see how he got the ball in the air quickly and had it land softly.

The Setup

  • First, take a wide stance with extra knee flex. This provides a solid base and the added knee flex allows us to lower our center of gravity. Tilt the spine angle away from the target to assist in elevating the shot without having to lift up as pressure is transferred towards the target on the downswing.
  • Next, once we have established a lower posture, we can drop our hands down. This is key. The lowering of the hands drops the shaft angle and puts the wrists and arms in a great position to release the club under and through the ball.

The Swing

  • As stated above, we lowered the hands and got the club in a perfect position to be released. The release motion, or the act of letting the clubhead pass the hands at impact, creates the high, soft trajectory.
  • As we release the club, the dynamic loft  — the loft of the club at impact as opposed to its true manufactured loft — is increased and the pitching wedge or sand wedge is now playing like that 64-degree lob wedge. This is what made Seve great: his ability to control the clubface and have total awareness of how the ball was being struck.
  • Finally, what makes this shot look so rhythmic and pure is the freeness of the body. We built a strong foundation but like Seve, we do not want to swing like we are stuck in the mud. Allow pressure to transfer back and through, finishing on the lead side. This fluid motion will allow you to accelerate and still have a soft touch on these precise pitch shots.