Aim & Alignment Series
The Golfers Mind
Golf Chip Shot -
When faced with shots from just off the green many high handicap golfers automatically reach for a very lofted club, one of their wedges, in order to play the shot. Then to make matters worse they have poor technique and try to scoop the ball in the air resulting in duff or thinned shots. In fact playing a less lofted chip shot and getting the ball to run quicker is often the best approach not least of all because the player is not trying to lift the ball in the air and thus ends up getting better contact. Getting the ball running quicker is also typically more accurate and the more you “fly” a ball the more you are relying on getting the landing spot and “first bounce” just right.
Admittedly there are shots where what you are faced with dictates the type of club and loft you will need, so lets have a look at some of the considerations you will have to make in order to play the right shot.
Remember: The higher you play a ball the harder it becomes to predict the bounce, roll and stop. The more you throw a ball up in the air the more you are at the mercy of “first bounce.”
1. The Lie Of The Ball – Take a close look at how the ball is lying. Is it sitting down in fairly deep grass? This will dictate playing a more lofted club as you need to strike down steeper on the ball and pop it out. Using a less lofted club like a 7 iron is not really an option as it will snag more in the grass and the ball will also foul up and may not come out at all. Use a sand or lob wedge and hit sharply down on the ball with a steep angle of attack to pop it out. Do not try to scoop! Practice these shots in some long grass to get a feel for popping them out to different distances.
2. What’s the Weather – Yes the weather conditions can dictate the best shot. If
it’s windy then the ball will be affected more the higher you play it. A low running
chip shot will not be affected near as much as a floated lob or sand wedge. Also
think about things like water on the greens. (even snow or sand) If the surface of
the green has a covering of water, bits of ice or sand then you are going to have
to compensate for the slowing action of this on the roll of the ball. Flying the
ball could be a better bet than running it, especially if the greens have started
to hold water on the surface. Having said that…
3. Run It Don’t Fly It – Whenever you can get the ball running as soon as possible is good advice. Learning to chip with 9, 8 and 7 irons or even straighter clubs is very important and will increase your percentage of success in getting up and down. Look at the distance between the ball and the green and then choose a club which will carry that distance in the air (with a little room to spare please!) and then land on the green and run out. For example if you are five yards off the green you can’t chip with a 7 iron. It will land short of the green and snag up or you will have to hit it so hard to carry the rough that it will shoot over the green and you are still chipping. Marry the distance to carry onto the green with the club selection flight characteristics. These will vary a little from person to person because of their individual techniques. Experiment on the practice ground and get to know yours.
4. Can You Carry It? -
5. First Read The Green! – It never fails to amaze me at how very few amateurs actually bother to read the green prior to playing a chip shot. The bottom line is this; You should be trying to hole most of your chip shots! (Except high risk as discussed before where the pin is in a dangerous position) Approach every chip shot you can with the attitude that you want to and can – HOLE IT! Read the green! You need to know how the ball will react to the breaks when it starts it’s roll. Another reason to read the green is so that if you don’t hole the putt, it is an easy putt to get in the hole. There is nothing worse than doing all the hard work of getting the landing, bounce and roll of the ball perfect for weight, and ending up 20ft away because you didn’t think about the break. Plan to hole every shot you can safely play for and get in the habit of reading the green every time and then go ahead and sink it!
Go practice and have fun.
Wishing You FIR’s, GIR’s & Blue Skies