Category Archives: Chipping/Pitching

Chipping Chopsticks

I see golfers struggle with the short game (chipping and pitching) more than any other part of the game.

I call the short game The Big Eraser. Reliable chipping and pitching will erase mistakes that are made with approach shots. It’s a fact that you’re going to miss greens. Even pros miss five to six greens per round—so that means the average golfer will miss even more! It’s frustrating when you can hit the ball 400 yards in 2 shots, yet it takes 4 more shots to get it in the hole from 30 yards. If you want to lower your handicap you have to have a solid short game. Chipping and pitching are crucial for scoring.

There are two common mistakes I see most golfers make that sabotage their short shots. One is ball position. Many golfers’ ball is way too far forward in their stance. This is setting up for failure. If this is your ball position, you regularly hit shots around the green fat or thin. That is why your confidence is low. So from now on, put the ball in the middle or even a little back of center in your stance because you want to hit the ball while the club is moving downward. Just like in the photo. You’ll get instant results.

photo 2sm photo 1sm

The second mistake I see is a stance that is too wide. Watch the pros. Usually on pitches and chips their stance is very narrow, unless they have a crazy lie. The pros take a narrow stance to eliminate any lateral movement. Shots around the green are finesse shots and shifting weight on this shot is counterproductive. I can tell you all of the technical reasons why this works but instead of boring you, just set up like in the photo and be amazed how instantly your chips and pitches improve. Also, notice the shaft leaning forward in the YES photo. That is essential for hitting quality shots.

And remember one more thing: with chipping and pitching, everything is opposite.  DOWN = UP. If you want the ball to go up, hit down. Don’t scoop or try to lift the ball in the air. If you do try to lift the ball into the air, you will often mishit it.I tell the golfers I teach to try to hit the part of the ball that you can’t see.

Chipping Chopsticks Drill

I came up with the Chipping Chopsticks drill to help my students improve their chipping. And yes, you will need chopsticks. (You can get them at the grocery store. Just go to the area where they sell sushi. They’ll be lying around there and they’re free!)

photo 3sm

photo 4smStick a chopstick in the end of your grip. When addressing the ball for a chip, if you are set up properly you won’t see the chopstick, because it will be in line with and covered up by your forearm (see photo). When you do this drill, at no point should you be able to see the chopstick. This shows that you kept your left wrist firm. If you can see the chopstick you’ll know you let the left wrist break down (scooping) and the chopstick will be visible and now pointing at your back shoulder. That is BAD.

So now you know why you hit poor chip shots. With very little practice you will be hitting beautiful crisp chip shots and saving strokes.

Putting with Loft

It seems the Bump-and-Run shot has been forgotten for the most part but my golfers find it easy to learn and wildly effective in tournament play. I had Hall-of-Fame college coach Ed Cottrell teach it to me my first year coaching. I always wished I had known about it when I was a college golfer. I considered myself to be very good around the greens but if I had had this shot in my arsenal I would have been amazing! B&R addressHe called it, “putting with loft.” It’s so easy and effective that all of my golfers see their up-and-in percentage go way up almost instantly after learning it. They think it’s magic. Once you learn how to play the bump and run and learn your distances with each club, you’ll be amazed at how many more shots you make from off the green and how much more often you leave yourself a tap-in. The beauty of this shot is that you learn one shot and use it for multiple clubs. I require all of my golfers to learn how to play this shot with everything from their lob wedge down to their 6 iron.

Note: the Bump-and-Run is intended to be played when you are 2-6 paces off the putting surface with nothing between you and the green.

Here’s how you do it:

B&R set up down lineSet-Up:

Feet are very close together if not touching. Ball is placed off of back foot, weight is mostly on the front foot. Sternum is ahead of the ball. This will position the hands ahead of the ball and give forward lean in the shaft. Notice how the lead wrist is perfectly flat and there is a straight line extending all the way from the shoulder to the clubhead. Also notice how close he stands to the ball – his hands just about touching his thigh.

B&R back

Backswing:

With little to no wrist-hinge take the club back. The lower body should remain quiet. The hands should go no farther than the back edge of your leg. The distance of your backswing will determine how far the ball will go. You need to be consistent with this position to get consistent results. It will feel like a very short stroke at first but after a little practice you should have no problem finishing your backswing here.

B&R through copy

Follow-through:

B&R through down lineFinish with the clubhead low. Notice the wrist remains straight. The butt-end of the club is in alignment with the sternum indicating that the there is no “flipping”of the clubhead. Another sign that you have not “flipped” the clubhead through the shot is by checking the position of the clubhead. The face should be “looking” right at the target.

If you have questions about this shot please leave your comments and I will be glad to respond.