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Defining the “No Brainer” Short Game System

Defining the “No Brainer” Short Game System

By Coach Josh Apple

Paul chipNo matter the sport, athletes have an innate, or natural, ability to do the functions required of that particular sport. Football players naturally know how to throw and catch a ball, basketball players natural know how to dribble, and golfers naturally are capable of swinging the club. For golf, just like any sport, the technique can be improved through coaching, but over-coaching can be detrimental. An effective instructor takes what a player does naturally and makes it better, rather than tearing apart the innate to construct a new swing.

These innate swings not only make every golfer unique, but can actually be used as a tool to test and measure shots in the short game. You may have heard of the famous clock system that requires players to think mechanically about a certain length of backswing. This type of practice can be effective, but isn’t natural. Rather, why not make natural swings and then measure how far they go? That sounds like a more reliable and repeatable concept, especially on the course under pressure.

Here are the basic short game techniques:

Chipping: Shots with a carry of about 10 yards or less and a high % of roll, the club head does not get on plane (above the hands)
Pitching: Shots from about 10 to 50-60 yards with a carry to roll ratio of 60-90%, the club head does get on plane
Flopping: Shots from about 1 to 30 yards with a carry to roll ratio of at least 90%, the club head does get on plane

The “No Brainer” system is a way of tracking how far your natural chipping, pitching and flopping motions go in the air without a target and without thought. This can be completed in any open area, whether a short game facility, empty driving range, or even your backyard. All testing should be done from a neutral setup position.

The best way to begin tracking is with the chipping technique and your most lofted club, which is likely a lob or sand wedge. If you are by yourself, place a grid of tees in small increments so that you can clearly identify where the ball lands. If you are fortunate enough to have someone with you, have him or her marking where each ball lands. Either way, you will hit 5-10 shots and then take the average landing spot. This distance will be your “No Brainer” for your chipping technique. Keeping the same club in your hands and sticking with the same technique, you will next track your “No Brainer Minus” and “No Brainer Plus” swings. Again, you should not be thinking about technical positions. Rather, you are using your own natural swing, whatever length that may be, and making slight adjustments.

This process is continued with each club that you use for the chipping technique. Therefore, you will have three different distances with each club for chipping.  Once you have completed the chipping technique, you may begin tracking the pitching technique and even the flopping technique.

Here is an example of a “No Brainer” chart for the chipping technique:

Club No Brainer – No Brainer No Brainer +
Lob Wedge 4 6 8
Sand Wedge 5 7 9
Gap Wedge 6 8 10
Pitching Wedge 7 9 11
9 Iron 8 10 12

After completing the tracking, you will have consistent and reliable distances that you can hit short game shots without technical thought. You can write these numbers down and keep them in your golf bag, or memorize your favorite ones. They don’t require any extra practice because they are innate motions. It is a good idea, however, to re-measure each year, or maybe every few years as the numbers may change slightly over time.

For more information about "No Brainer" group classes or private sessions, contact Coach Josh Apple at japple@raspberrygolfacademy.com or look under "Group Programs" on our website.