Golf tip of the Month

Chipping is an extension of putting

Aim, mechanics and execution are important


(June 2010)
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Jim Meisner

Think of chipping as an extension of putting. Many of the ideas, tips and drills will have a familiar ring but they can’t be repeated to often. Remember the golden rule: Putt when you can, chip when you can’t putt and pitch when you can’t 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: Don’t confuse the brain by practicing something you don’t intend to do. It’s 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 to it!
• 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, don’t 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.

More tips:
• 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 part.

• 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.


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