Updated: May 21, 2021
Ok, I’ll put my self on line here. Shoot me! 😅 There has been discussion about womens' poor short game skills as long as I've been around. I’ve been asking from many colleagues and experienced golf coaches if female golfers in the first place are able to hit same kind of shots as men and spin the ball same as men in short game. Mostly I've been interested in low 30-40 meter wedge shots that stop to the green quite quickly. I keep getting answers like there shouldn’t be any reason why women couldn’t hit same shots as men since short game isn't about speed. Another opinion has been that women just doesn't spend enough time in short game area and doesn't reach the same skill level as men.
My hypothesis is that women aren’t able to hit low trajectory spinning shots as effectively as men because of the genetic physical differences.
These answers don't satisfy me and I keep thinking there’s more into it than practice and I think I’ve figured it out - or at least getting closer to this mystery of mine. And it’s something that Trackman isn’t able to calculate, at least not yet. (I hope the TrackMan people won’t hate me for this) My hypothesis is that women aren’t able to hit low trajectory spinning shots as effectively as men because of the genetic physical differences.
I think I got my answer or at least a hint of it when attending James Ridyards' two-day workshop a few weeks ago. For those who doesn't know him, he's Fran Molinaris' short game coach among many other good players and a well appreciated coach in professional golf. According to James more the loft changes at impact (or throughout the impact), more spin you get. That hit me. My thinking related to this fact is that more strength you have in your arms, and especially forearms, more change in the loft you’re able to create in a shorter period of distance the club travels through impact. I would call this rate of dynamic loft change. This creates spin and friction that is needed to those low spinners. Therefore, women with less strength in their hands and arms aren’t able to create the same spin (and friction) to the ball as men. Just think of an 80-year-old player hitting low spinning shots with same technique as a fit male professional player? Maybe think about Tiger now and later on in his 80s'. With less strength in arms it just can't be the same - or can it?
Another answer to my question came from PGA Golf Professional Henrik Lundqvist who's specialized in 3D motion of swing and applies biomechanics into his teaching. According to him women lack the ability to slow down different body parts through impact to be able to create force needed. Henrik would say: "Putting the brakes on". Body parts that we're talking of are legs, hips, thorax and arms. So it's not about speed creation but braking quickly enough coming to impact that women aren't able to do as effectively as men. This again supports my theory of women not being able to rotate the face of the club in as short period of time as men - even in short game. Women don't have as much strength in forearms to be able to stop the handle (grip) quickly enough through the impact to be able to create the quick rotation needed. Of course there are differences between women strentghwise.
So it's not about creating speed but braking quickly enough that women aren't able to do as effectively as men.
The problem with this discussion earlier has been that no one has really explained how the low spinning wedge shots are done. Better players just do it but can't explain it. It's easy to say that it's just about the skill. Yes, but what skill? No one hasn't been able to explain the technique for the low spinning wedges before and I had to figure it out myself. Or they have tried but opening the club face in the set up and placing ball back in the stance hasn't done the trick. Actually ball needs to be played from the middle or forward to be able to do it.
So, let me try: If you think about the club head, it doesn't rotate around the shaft axis so that the club would open and close. This action is usually done with forearm rotation (supination-pronation) which isn't that welcome in the swing. The needed action for a low spinning shots is the change in the club's loft. This is created mainly with extension / flexion motion of the wrists but also radial deviation has a lot to do with it. The club head needs to be in a delofted position (shaft leaning towards target) coming to the ball which after the loft increases (adding loft by shaft leaning away from target). This is done with active wrist action which makes the face rotate actively within short time frame through the impact. The action is almost like scooping the ball but with less dynamic loft coming to the impact. To be able to do this, club head needs to be square in relation to the path the club head travels. You don't want to open the face in your backswing as in most shots around green since that way you wouldn't get the loft change needed.
Images of how wrists move.
I'm not saying women aren't able to hit low spinners and of course they can. Everybody can if they practice it. What I am saying is that women might not get the same spin when the ball is landing to the green. The shot comes out different for most women. I'm also saying that it might take a little longer for women to learn these shots because of the weakness in forearms. They do get stronger within practice and that is my advice for women. Get stronger with your forearms to be better in short game - obviously it will have an effect in long game as well.
My advice for women. Get stronger with your forearms to be better in short game - obviously it will have an effect in long game as well.
That is that. These are my perception on women and short game. Colleagues around the world, what's your take on this matter with your experience? Am I after something maybe? Would appreciate your constructive comments.
Here are two simplified videos for my Finnish followers in Finnish how the shot can be played