The chip-shot. Feared as the nemesis of so many of us regular average golfers. Striking fear into the hearts of those of us without the expertise to treat them like any other golf shot.
Your short game can make or break your round and chipping from a short distance can become one of your assets with a little help from the pros. Many of the top tour players use this method on a regular basis.
How many times has your ball been sitting just off the edge of the green roughly 5 feet or less and your chip-shot was flubbed by either grounding the club early, resulting in the ball dribbling a few inches or, worse yet, skulling it over the green and ending up with a tougher lie than you had to begin with?
A lot of high handicappers make the mistake of trying to land a chip-shot close to the hole for good putting position. And unless you know how to make the ball stop on a dime after landing, it's a recipe for disaster.
Here's an extremely useful tip for those pesky chip-shots around the green. I'm no artist but I've created a rather crude graphic below to help you follow along.
To make it easier to follow, I'm going to use increments of 5 feet.
Here's the scenario. You're lying 3 feet off the edge of the green. It's 10 feet to the pin. You want to land the ball about half the distance from the pin (about 5 ft.) and have it roll the rest of the way. For this shot, use your pitching wedge. The loft of the wedge is designed so that a properly struck pitch will roll roughly the same distance as the ball's flight.
Now, same scenario as above, 3 feet off the edge of the green, this time 15 feet from the ball to the pin. Use a 9 iron here. Chip the ball 5 feet to the same landing spot, and the loft of the 9 iron will cause the ball to roll twice as far as the distance of the ball's flight.
In example 3, everything as above, only this time the pin is 20 feet away. Use a 7 iron here. The ball will roll 3 times the flight distance.
And if you're even further away, 25 feet in this example, use your 5 iron to make the ball roll 4 times the distance of the original 5 foot flight path of the chip-shot.
Of course, this strategy is great on flat putting surfaces. When you add variables such as breaks and downhill or uphill roll, you will need to make adjustments. But the same idea will still apply.
I've used this method for the past couple of seasons with excellent results. The chip-shot has become a strong point in my play instead of something to be feared. Just practice getting a feel for how hard to strike the ball to carry to your desired landing spot. Don't let your chip-shot intimidate you.
A pitch shot is a wonderful scoring shot and can be learned very quickly. Also, It can be played with just about any club in your bag. A pitch shot is a controlled shot that is struck crisply on the downswing and has a low trajectory.
To hit a pitch shot start with your pitching wedge. Choke down just a bit maybe an inch or so. Place about 75% of your weight on your left side, knees flexed. Play the ball slightly back in your stance. Take a 3/4 back swing with little wrist breakage and minimal leg movement.
The down swing starts by pulling the left arm down and extending the club face down the target line chasing the ball as long as possible. Follow through with a three quarter swing and accelerate through the shot. The flight of the ball will be lower with little ball movement. The pitch shot is a great shot to play in all types of conditions especially into the wind were you want to keep your ball low. With a little patience and a lot of practice this can become your bread and butter scoring shot!
Select your 8 iron, pitching wedge, and sand wedge. Pick out 3 targets between 50 to 120 yards about 15 yards apart. Practice your pitch shots alternating targets and clubs to develop feel and distance in your pitch shots. And like chipping, distances will very with different styles of clubs and types of balls.
Bump and Run
A great place to use this shot is when you are close to the green and don't have rough or a hazard to go over. Use the basic stroke technique. Play the ball in the middle of your stance feet slightly open. allow for lots of roll and hit the ball almost like a putt. This shot can also be played with a 6 or 8 iron depending on the pin location and slope of the green. My personal preference is the 8 iron, its my go to club.
Use this shot when you have rough or a hazard to go over but still have a lot of green to work with. Using the basic chipping stroke technique, play the ball about 3/4 forward in your stance. You might use a little more wrists here to get the ball to pop up faster. Play for more height and less roll. And remember to keep your head still through the shot.
This is the perfect shot to use when you are faced with a hazard to go over or high rough with little green to work with. Use the basic chipping stroke with your sand wedge, open your stance a little and play the ball off your left heel. Use a little extra wrist here and pull down and through with your left hand and the ball will pop right up and land softly with minimum roll. And again remember to keep the hands in front of the club head through impact.
Here is when the fun begins. Have you ever had a shot you thought was impossible? You had a huge bunker to go over with no green to work with or you had a tall tree between you and the green with almost no room to maneuver.
The lob shot may be the answer for you! This shot is by no means easy and very challenging to learn but with just a little patience and a lot of practice you can master this shot and master your short game as well. Start by opening your stance and the clubface of your lob wedge to give you maximum loft.
Slope your shoulders so that your right shoulder is lower than your left. Play the ball off of your left heel. Start your back swing by breaking your wrist to give yourself a steep angle of attack. Pull down and through with your left hand but this time after impact hold your clubface open so it points to the sky on your follow through. A key point to remember, always accelerate through all you shots
Take 30 practice balls and place 10 each in 3 different spots around the green. 10 on the fringe, 10 about 15 yards from the green with rough to go over, and 10 balls in front of a bunker with the pin tucked tightly.
Practice with your 7 iron, pitching wedge, and sand wedge from these locations using the basic chipping stroke. This will help you to get a feel for how these different clubs will affect the ball. Some additional information to consider. Different style balls such as ballatas will react differently than a 2-piece distance ball and oversize irons will react differently than tour blades. Get to know your equipment.