Think of chipping as an extension of putting. Many
of the ideas, tips and drills will have a familiar ring but they cant
be repeated to often. Remember the golden rule: Putt when you can, chip
when you cant putt and pitch when you cant putt or chip.
Several things need to happen before you make the chip shot. Say hello
to S.A.R.E. with an E: Survey, Alignment, Rehearse and Execute.
Survey: This Means more than just looking at the shot.
Start with the lie. Is it sitting up which will allow cleaner contact
and better control with softer hands? Has it settled down in the grass,
requiring firmer hands for control through the grass? Is there any up
or down slope to adjust for? With this information you can determine which
club you want to use for the chip. (Yes, you really are allowed to use
different clubs for different situations). Last thing in the survey is
to determine where you want to land the ball based on any break you may
have read. Your focal point is now that landing point, forget the rest
of the world.
Alignment or Aim: It is critical to understand that
we aim with the face of the club. The feet, hips and shoulders, i.e. the
set up, is all adjusted to the alignment or aim of the club face. To test
your aim, get all set then have your partner put the head of a tee flat
against your club face. The tee will point where the ball will go if struck
squarely. Are you on line?
Rehearse: Dont confuse the brain by practicing
something you dont intend to do. Its like taking a dozen free
throws with a basketball then picking up the wedge to make a golf shot.
Practice what you intend to do, exactly what you intend to do. The practice
stroke or two will give you a feel for what you think you
saw in your survey: up or down slope, light grass, heavy grass, whatever
you have you can now feel it with a practice stroke. Now commit
Execute: There is no room for doubt. You have surveyed,
aimed and rehearsed the shot. Now execute the same swing with the ball
in the way. If the result is less than great, dont beat yourself
up. Go make the next shot. If the result is great, savor it for a second
or two, get your ball out of the hole and move on to the next shot.
The mechanics: Narrow your stance from that of a full swing.
Set slightly open, hands slightly ahead of the ball that is in the middle
to just barely back of middle of your stance. Weight more on the forward
foot and your back shoulder higher than the front one to ensure a downward
stroke. This hand position with the club angled forward is held through
impact and down the target line with no wrist or hand action. The shot
is made completely from the shoulders. Remember distance is controlled
by how far back you take the club. Your follow through remains the same,
short chip or long chip.
Most common errors: Playing the ball too far back in
the stance, weight on the back foot and trying to help the club by flipping
the hands at impact. Any one of these and definitely any combination of
these will most certainly lead to a missed shot.
To ensure there is no collapse of the leading wrist put a large rubber
band around the wrist and tuck the end of the grip under the rubber band.
You will know immediately when the wrist brakes down.
Practice making one handed chips, with your leading hand. This will demonstrate
the need to keep the wrist firm and will also strengthen that wrist for
all your shots.
Practice distance control by putting golf towels down on the green at
different distances. Land the ball on the towel. Remember your goal is
to hit your predetermined landing spot. The rest of the roll out and the
ball going in the hole will all take care of itself. You just do your
For more ways to get rid of the big number and other ways to
improve you game, contact Jim Meisner, PGA Teaching Professional and Director
of Instruction, Midwest Golf Academy at Cozy Acres Golf Complex. Call
him at (812) 273-3137.