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Ballantrae at Birmingham Instructional Tips

 October Instructional Tip

This month we are going to talk about Chipping. This is a very important part of the game. These shots can save you from a bad shot or make a good shot even better. Plus, these shots don’t require strength, youth or flexibility. If you are old and stiff like me, you can still hit good chip and pitch shots!

Chipping is when you are next to the green. You want to use the most lofted club that you are comfortable with (8-9-PW-SW-LW). If you have to chip up a hill it may require a sand or lob wedge, but if you are uncomfortable using those clubs use an 8 or 9 iron. Also, keep in mind that you can always putt from off the green. If the fringe grass is smooth and short enough the best option is often a putter. An old golf saying is a bad putt is often better than a good chip.

Your grip is the same as the normal full shot golf grip (covered previously). The stance and set up are a little different however. The stance is narrow (feet 4-8 inches apart) and slightly open (aimed to the left for righties and to the right or lefties). This allows your arms to hang freely and allows you to see the target better. Since we are not making a full turn of the body this stance is the best for chipping. You also want to set up with the hands slightly forward and the ball slightly back (I always say hands off left leg, ball off right foot [for righties]). The last item in the set up is that you want your weight slightly more on the left side (for righties). This promotes a downward stroke.

So now, let’s talk about the stroke. In the past I have talked a lot about how the swing is a circle. The chip stroke is a circle too. But, it’s not a full circle. The other difference is that you strike the ball before the bottom of the circle. That’s because the ball is back and you are making the aforementioned downward stroke. If you can picture this in your mind it can make chipping the ball as simple as making a smaller circle with your chipping stroke.

In fact, the size of the circle determines the distance of the chip. This is how you master distance control with your chip shots. Practice different length chips on our 2 chipping greens and get the feel of relating the length of the stroke (or circle) with the length of the chip shot.

I have given a lot of chipping lessons over the years. I know this can be a difficult shot for many of you. Remember that even if it is not a complete circle, it needs to be symmetrical. In other words, finish the stroke. If the second half of your circle is shorter than the first half you many suffer from the dreaded tops (that go over the green) or the equally dreaded chili-dips. If have trouble chipping when the ground is wet or in the early Spring when the grass isn’t fluffy; make sure you complete the circle. It will do wonders for your chipping.

Finally, club selection is up to you. An 8 iron is going to go lower than a sand wedge, but if you chip better with the 8 iron; use it. Sometimes the shot dictates the club. If it is uphill or not much green to work with you may have to use a lofted wedge to hit the proper shot. Be sure to make your stroke a circle (or semi-circle) as discussed above and I bet you will have success with these clubs too.

Good luck with your chipping and we’ll see you all out at Ballantrae in October!


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