In wet conditions it’s easy to catch your chip shots heavy which generally leads to the ball dribbling just a few feet in front of you and a deep sense of frustration. However, a good chipping action and a good up and down to save par gives the player a feeling of satisfaction. Sadly the positive emotion is all too infrequent for the club golfer.
Most of my time is spent fixing the full swing but the quickest route to lower scores is developing a solid short game. The areas discussed in this blog are common mistakes club golfers make when chipping and hopefully after reading this you will be able to apply the techniques discussed and improve your own scores.
Why do most people miss strike their chip shots?
When teaching the short game I see lots of the same issues creeping into club golfers techniques.
I generally see two types of set-up. The image below on the left is most common. The golfer sets up to a chip shot the same as they do for a full swing. Weight distribution is 50/50 between left and right foot and there is no shaft lean towards the target. This even weight distribution makes it very difficult to strike down on the ball which is crucial to a good contact.
The right hand picture is generally what I see from the more advanced player. This player has more weight on their front foot but the shaft is leaning too far forward which promotes the sharp leading edge of the club striking the ground instead of the bounce.
In an attempt to see the back of the ball this golfer is also tilting their right shoulder lower than his left which encourages an ascending blow through the ball rather than a descending movement of the club.
During the swing two very common faults are shown in the pictures below.
1) Flicking the club through impact (shown on the left) is generally caused by the golfer trying to generate loft and helping the ball airborne instead of letting the loft of the club do the work. From a technical point of view this is generally caused by a lack of upper body rotation through the ball.
2) One of the crucial elements of a good short game is using the bounce of the club correctly. Killer move number two is picture right where the clubhead has moved too quickly around the golfers body. This move generally closes the clubface, due to the rolling of the wrists, which exposes the sharp leading edge instead of the bounce resulting in the fat shot if the low point is not perfect.
Bounce – What is it and why is it so important?
The bounce of a wedge is the bottom part of the club also referred to as the sole. As you can see from the image above bounce is measured by the angle that the leading edge of the club is higher than the back of the sole. A high bounce angle will see the leading edge rise off the ground when the club is held vertically.
Bounce is a vital part of a good chipping because if applied correctly it will help the club to skip across the turf rather than dig into it. If the clubhead digs into the ground the general result is a chunk.
Click the video to see Graeme McDowell explain bounce and it's affect on shots around the green.
What to do next
If you suffer from chunked chip shots I advise you to visit me for a lesson at Hillsborough Golf Club to find out exactly what your issue is. Many golfers believe that they know what there issue is but there is a huge difference between what you feel like you are doing and what you are actually doing. A 60 minute video lesson will help us create the correct plan for your short game.
Once you are aware of what your issue is you need to apply one or all of the following.
The left image shows the perfect set-up for a chip shot. The stance is narrow with the ball positioned opposite the centre of the stance. To allow the bounce to work the club shaft is leaning slightly forward of the ball, a good marker here is that the butt end of the club should point to a point in-between your belt buckle and your left pocket (right pocket for left handed golfers).
But to me the most crucial element of this set-up is the position of the head and sternum.
To ensure the lowest point of your swing is in front of the ball you need to make sure your sternum points in front of the ball. This tilting forward of your sternum may open your shoulders slightly but don’t worry, this will also help you. Finally, I tell all of my clients to feel that there nose is over their front foot, this will flatten your shoulder angle and promote a descending blow into the ball with no more chunks.
To see a video explaining the correct set-up please click here.
On the backswing you need to make sure you set the club on the correct plane and not too much behind you as we saw above. The position here shows the clubhead moving on a line that was drawn up the shaft angle at address. If the club moves up this correct angle the bounce will be easier to maintain during the shot plus there is no need for any manipulating of the club on the downswing.
These two images show the difference in follow-through technique.
Tiger Woods has used the rotation of his upper body to guide the club through the ball and is letting the club do the work for him.
At no point has he flicked the club with his wrists.
A good mental image here is that the lower body remains still whilst the upper body moves the club through impact.
I cannot stress the importance of filming your technique before you make any changes enough. The chipping action happens so fast and you will not be looking at the club as you swing it, this makes any self-diagnosis almost impossible.
If you are unable to get to Hillsborough Golf Club for a lesson please film your technique from the two angles shown in this article and draw lines if possible. Once you have found which area you need to work on you can apply the techniques discussed.