Again necessity is the mother of invention! Inventor, tour player, coach and entrepreneur Craig Hocknull solved a huge short-game dilemma and now he’s ready to share his journey and solutions with you!
Here is a question to ponder. How do you execute the simplest most efficient and effective short-game technique under extreme pressure and have the ability to hit every short-game shot with control and on command?
MMMM well the answer was again a combination of technique and technology! Here is Craig’s journey.
“When I played all three stages, 14 rounds of PGA Tour Q-School in 2011 I couldn’t chip or pitch to save my life! It’s a good thing I averaged 15 greens a round and when I missed the green I missed them in a place I could putt most of the time.
I had solved my putting issues between 2009 and 2011 but my chipping and pitching stunk. I played multiple tour events on 4 major world tours and garnered as much knowledge as I could from gurus and experts such as Bob Vokey, Roger Cleveland and multiple tour reps with decades of knowledge combined. As much as I searched I just couldn’t find the answers I needed.
There were simply too many factors to consider and I just surrendered to the fact that I just needed to practice more. The problem was when you are playing on Bermuda grass, then bent, then paspalum, then blue grass, then Zoysia and you play on wet turf, soft turf, firm turf, tight turf and the list goes on and on you become very overwhelmed with the variables and when your lively hood depends on saving pars and making birdies you are determined to leave no stone unturned.
In 2012 I unfortunately broke the hook of hamate bone in my left hand and then again in 2012 and 2013 before I had surgery to remove it. Consequently these injuries ultimately took me off of the tour and back to coaching. I was able to help my students through my real life tour education and I successfully helped hundreds of students from 2013 - 2016.
Then a very cool thing happened. in 2016 I qualified for the Waste Management Phoenix Open which was to be played in 2017 and I was so scared of making a fool out of myself with such a bad short-game that I went to work solving my dilemma.
How do you execute the simplest most efficient and effective short-game technique under extreme pressure and have the ability to hit every short-game shot with control and on command?
So here is what I came up with, very similar to my Saber Golf Stability Core Putter process. I said, what is the absolute simplest, no brainer, beginner technique to hit chips and pitches with ease? How do I do the least athletically taxing technique? How do I play all of the necessary short-game shots from all of the ridiculously varied turf conditions under the most pressure and do it at a world class level? BAM! That was it! If I could solve this question I would not embarrass myself at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and take my game to an even higher level!
Within 3 months I found myself ultimately about 30% of the way to my solution. I competed in my first PGA Tour event with the largest crowds of any professional golf event in the world by a long shot. How did I do in this tour event? Well I needed to hit one pitch shot over a bunker from a tight lie (very difficult with spectators in blade danger) which I hit to 15 feet. I needed to hit two flop shots from the rough, both to within 6 feet which I was very pleased with. I also needed to hit two short bunker shots which I did just fine. So after 36 holes and narrowly missing the cut I used my prototype wedge and new technique 5 times and on the other 3 times that I missed the green I putted. One of my putted “Texas Wedge” shots from 30 yards ended in a massive roar from the crowd and a birdie that I will never forget. I accomplished my short-game goal and I did not embarrass myself, this by the way was the year after Tiger did embarrass himself with chunks and chilli-dips galore on the same TPC Scottsdale course.
So obviously I wasn’t done solving my problem but my game was coming into form again post injury. In September of 2017 I shot 16 under par for three rounds at the Gallery golf club in Tucson winning our Southwest Section PGA Championship by 5 shots and again it was mostly putting but over the previous 8 months I had formulated the next 20% of my short-game solution. I hit some sick shots from around the green that week and I was excited to test them out at the PGA Professional National Championship on the Bayonet and Black Horse courses of Monterey California. If you know those courses you can attest that they are two of the countries toughest courses. You can also bet that even the best ball strikers and putters will need to have a very sharp short game. In hind site I was about 75% of the way there on my technique and about 25% there on my equipment, leaving me at about 50% problem solved compared to where I am today. Well, long story short I had some amazing short-game shots and frankly some embarrassing oopses as well, but it was good enough for me to finish 14th in the National Championship and earn a spot in the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive in St. Louis Missouri. Well, crap I thought in the middle of my excitement. If I don’t get this short-game figured out I’m going to really struggle on the “Green Monster of Ladue”. (Nickname for Bellerive)
I set out to figure out the weapon of choice because I felt that my technique was relatively anxiety proof and as athletically simple as I could make it.
After competing in my first Major and narrowly missing the cut I knew that I was super close to figuring this short-game dilemma out. Too many stories to tell here but I turned some heads from the likes of Tommy Fleatwood, Ian Poulter and my 36 hole playing partners, Austin Cook and Miko Korhonan.
I had a few short months to get everything dialed in including a new prototype wedge with improved features before competing again in the PGA Professional National Championship at Belfair in Blufton South Carolina. My confidence was growing at my home club, Glenwild Golf Club and Spa in Park City, Utah and I had tested my technique and tool on the following turf conditions
TURF CONDITIONS TESTED
Firm Tight Rye Grass Over Bermuda - TPC Scottsdale, AZ
Grainy Super Grabby Tight and Firm Paspalum - Natadola Bay - Fiji
Grainy AZ Summer Bermuda - The Gallery - Dove Valley, AZ
Tight Firm Bent / Poa and Wet Soft Poa due to rain - Bayonet - Monterey Bay, CA
Soft and Wet yet Grabby Bermuda / Bent / Blue Grass - Bellerive, St. Louis, MO
Super Tight Sand Belt Turf - Moonah Links, Melbourne, Australia
Firm Tight Blue Grass and Rye Grass - Glenwild Golf Club, Park City, UT
So at Belfair I welcomed the challenge of playing something new, Sandy Soft and Sandy Firm Bermuda Grass with lots of Grain and whisky semi dormant Bermuda rough. As you can imagine these details are just a few of the factors that I faced and for your information I used my developing technique and equipment for pitch shots, flighted control shots, flop shots, spinners, releasers, and a multitude of different bunker shots / sand conditions. Again the variables are ridiculous, but the great news was that my short-game technique and wedge modifications were getting better and better and there didn’t seem to be a kryptonite for me to worry about. After finishing 17th in the PGA Professional National Championship I was off to play in my second straight major championship the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage on Long Island, NY. Within 10 days I was back to Arizona from South Carolina and then out to New York. Wow! Bethpage was one wet beast of a course and for sure I would need a stellar short-game to play from wet and thick blue grass to super fast bent with poa greens. The week was in general a struggle and I don’t believe I will ever play a harder course with the combination of length, deep rough and poor weather. None the less my short-game did not let me down and I hit some shots in that environment that I will never forget and will draw on in future tournaments.
Finally I was 90% to where I am today and when I returned to Glenwild I began coaching my students in my new technique which by the way was different than I had coached them on just a year ago. The evolution of my short-game technique and the modifications that I was making with their wedges was as one student said “this wedge and technique has literally change my life” and I agreed it had changed my life for the better as well!
As I write this I’m sitting on a flight from Park City, Utah to Orlando, Florida to attend the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show and In my golf bag I am carrying the first ever Saber Golf Wedge which I have named the Saber “Bite Grind” Wedge because of how the grind and grooves work together to “tear the cover off the ball”, in a good way!
Now the CNC precision milled face and grooves along with the unique grind and bounce option are not the only factors of these amazing wedges there is of course the secret recipe off technique and technology that I developed through my years of trial and error. This website will not reveal all of the solutions to my short-game dilemma, however if you would like to journey down the path of short-game mastery with me I’ll be happy to not only fit you for the best wedge you’ve ever played I’ll also coach you on the easiest way to use it!
If you’re disappointed that you read to the end of this and I did’t disclose all the answers then you must have missed the beginning sentence when it states I’m also an entrepreneur :-). All kidding aside, when you have toiled for decades with a streaky short-game and then dedicated your time, finances and energy to solving a problem that not only plagued you but also plagues a great majority of the golfing public you would like to benefit from the trials and tribulations that you have endured.
The simplest way to begin the process of getting your journey started is to pre-order your wedge right here online today. Your wedge purchase includes a video chat fitting like I do with my putters, which includes a short-game diagnosis questionnaire and technique assessment via FaceTime or FaceBook Messenger Video. It also include the custom grinding, bending, shafting and gripping of your wedges as well as the laser engraving of your personalized logo, initials, quote or image if you would like on your wedges.
I also believe so strongly in my methods and products that I am offering my industry leading 50/50 guarantee which is that if you are not playing the best short-game shots of your life within the first 90 days of using my wedges and using my techniques I’ll take 50% of the blame and refund you 50% of the purchase price when you return your wedge.
This game owes us nothing and can be cruel but I have figured out the best combination of tool and technique and I’m confident that you will love the results. Cheers!” - Craig Hocknull, PGA