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Lest we forget, golf has long been a shotmaker’s game.  The era of perfect putting surfaces, solid core distance balls, and 46 inch 460cc clubheads is still in its infancy. The greater annals of golfing history are filled with men and women who distinguished themselves through the quality of their striking, breadth of imagination, and mental fortitude to physically create what once existed only in the mind’s eye.   The ability to work the ball – left, right, high, low, off sidehills and downslopes, tight lies and hardpan, different grass types and in varying weather conditions – was of paramount importance to championship caliber golf.  Classic courses of the persimmon age demanded it.  Shotmaking Corner will serve, I hope, to preserve a few bits and pieces of the once great body of knowledge of the great shotmakers should the next generation express a desire to  direct the game back towards a more traditional form.

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The Riser by Ken Venturi

Excerpted from The Venturi System by Ken Venturi and Al Barkow, 1983

There is a situation that sometimes arises on the golf course that requires a very particular kind of shot.  You have an approach into the wind that must carry a bunker or a water hazard in front of the green.  Yet, the approach must not run beyond the putting surface because there is trouble there, too.  You can’t hit the standard low shot, because the ball might run over the green.  A high shot is going to get caught up in the wind flutter, and fall short.  If there is a bunker short of the green, the ball might “plug” – that is, bury itself in the sand.

The shot you need to hit is the “riser,” in which the ball starts out low – “under” the wind – and near the end of its flight, rises well into the air so that it comes down steeply and softly onto the green.

The riser is a  shot for the player who can make subtle change in the swing arc that produces the correct trajectory.

Use the club you think you need for the distance, with the wind factor included in your calculation.  You must hit the ball with a  more descending blow than you normally do – almost as though you were going to hit its upper half.

Widen your stance a few inches by moving only the left foot laterally to the left, and also set you hands slightly more to the left.  With your weight a little more on the left side, and your stance widened, you can now make the more vertical, or V-shaped, swing you need.   Keep your eyes on the front of the ball, rather than the back of it, to help you make contact higher up on its back than usual, and make a strong “kick” with your right knee to the left in the downswing.

To hit the riser successfully, you need the wind in your face; the shot won’t come off with the wind at your back, or with no wind at all.  You’ll find this stroke most useful for iron-shot approaches, but you can play it with a fairway wood, provided you have a good lie.  However, don’t try to play the “riser” for an approach under 60 yards; at such a short distance, you can’t take the aggressive swing that makes the shot work.

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