Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chip Away Strokes the Easy Way!

Great chipping will save you many strokes a round.  The two components to great chipping are a sound mental approach and simple technique.  In my experience, most golfers are OK with the technique, but forget to prepare or focus on the shot at hand.  Your mental approach (preparation) should include choosing the correct club for the shot, picking a landing spot for your ball and then visualizing the ball rolling into the hole.

I think it is safe to say there are more golfers which use one favorite club for chipping and vary the length of swing depending on the length of the shot.  It is very difficult to be consistent using this technique as you are always changing the length of your swing and relying too much on feel.

 I am a proponent of landing the ball just onto the putting surface and then letting the loft of the club determine how far the ball rolls.  With this technique, you are always making the same length swing but varying the club you are using. 

I will get into more detail in a moment on the technique, but I will say at this point your chipping swing is always the same length.  With this fact in mind, there is a point when you are too far away from the green to chip the ball and get it to land on the green.  When you are at this point, the shot then becomes a pitch and run or a high lofted pitch shot.  We will discuss this in a future post.

When teaching, I use a target circle for the student to land the ball.  It does not take long for the student to land every shot into the circle.  This circle is about the size of a hula hoop.  The bottom line is you are trying to land the ball about 5-6' onto the green.

Now, how do you decide which club to use?  I figure the distance from my ball to the circle is one "part".  This part may be anywhere from 2-6 yards from the edge of the green.  I also call this part "air time" as it is the distance the ball travels in the air before hitting the green and then rolling, which is called "ground time".  If the hole is close to you, there will not be much ground time so you will use a more lofted club.  If the hole is further away, there will be more roll or ground time and you will use a less lofted club.  If you will practice landing the ball just onto the green and varing your club choice, it will not take long to figure out how far each club rolls.  But, you must be hitting crisp shots to be consistent.

Again, the proper mental preparation is choose the correct club, pick a landing spot for the ball, then visualize the ball going into the hole.

Now, more detail about a simple technique I use and teach.

Set Up
1.  Grip down to the bottom of the grip
2.  Feet close together and aimed slightly left of the target
3.  Since you have gripped down about 2-3 inches, add that much knee flex
4.  Hands should be positioned ahead of the ball and the ball will be located off the big toe of your back foot
5.  Your weight should be more on the front foot

1.  Swing the arms just past your back leg
2.  There is no independent hand action or weight shift
1. Return to set up position with hands leading the club
1.  Club stays low to the ground
2.  Your head stays down too
3.  The club head does not pass the hands
4.  The follow through is the same length as the backswing
I think you will find this technique simple and easy to repeat.  Any golfer, regardless skill level can learn to lower their scores by following this technique and applying the proper mental approach.

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