If I had one area or one shot that was my most favourite of all the different shots within the game of golf, it would have to be the chip shot.
The main reason is that it relies heavily on the creativity of the individual hitting the shot that you are faced with. In other words if you can see it, you can create it.
Having the ability to get out of any situation that your previous shot put you into, and getting the ball up and down, can not only be extremely satisfying and ultimately lowering your score.
But it can also demoralize your playing opponents as they watch you get out of jail all day long.
I quickly realized that if I was going to compete at a high level that I not only had to hit the ball better and more consistent, but that I had to greatly improve my short game.
The most important factor to lowering your scores is to have a great short game.
My mind told me that if I perfect the scoring part of the game, while I was going through swing changes with my long game, that I still had half a chance to score.
The same is true for each and every one of you. Next to the putting stroke, the chip shot and the basic fundamentals associated with the stroke is the easiest.
In other words, there are less moving parts in the body while making a chip shot relative to the full swing.
Therefore, understanding and then executing the chip shot, and becoming proficient at it, should be somewhat easier to master then the full swing.
Golf is not a game of perfect!
Therefore we must become experts, or at least attempt to understand and then become proficient at the area of the game that will allow you to recover from those imperfect shots. This of course leads us to primarily the chip shot. For the chip shot is king of recovery.
In the past two articles, I have discussed the basic fundamentals of the chip shot, where the shot should be played from, the stroke and how the stroke is generated.
I also discussed the rules of the chip shot and, once perfected, how to break those rules which will create a whole new group of shots with different ball flights and of course spin rates relative to the heights of those shots.
The later of the two shots (breaking the rules) becomes extremely difficult if you’re not proficient at hitting the basic chip shot.
In other words, for every rule that you break, the shot and the perfection of that shot becomes much more difficult.
Therefore, begin by understanding the basic fundamentals of the chip shot and then practice, practice, practice.
As I said earlier, getting the ball up and down is all about creativity. Your creativity is partially built on your ability to properly execute the basics of the chip shot.
This is true but the key word being crativity. In other words, if you can see it, you can create it.
The bottom line, when it comes to lowering your scores, is to get the ball close enough to the hole so that you can one putt.
This is what it’s all about.
In the next few paragraphs I’ll expand your imagination by giving you a few suggestions and ideas on using different clubs from different areas that may not only broaden your creative side but hopefully assist in lowering your scores if executed properly.
How many people prefer to use a putter from off the green instead of chipping the ball?
This of course is OK if you feel the putter gives you the best chance to get the ball close.
Sometimes the putter is not the best choice when you are, say, 10 yards off the green and the pin at the back. In other words you have a fairly long shot.
This can put some into what might feel like a sauna as they start to sweat, because they know there’s no chance of getting it close.
If you’re in this situation and not comfortable with chipping the ball you may want to take out your hybrid.
Using the hybrid may be a better choice to get it up onto the green as the club has a fair bit of loft.
The loft of the club does a couple of things.
First, because the hybrid has a greater angle on the face compared to the putter, less grass can be caught between the face of the club and the ball.
What this means is that the ball will jump off of the club face more consistently than with a putter, therefore being more consistent with the distance you are attempting to hit it.
When using the hybrid you want to set up as if you are going to hit a putt. The stroke will be exactly the same with the ball position forward in your stance.
Remember, distance is determined by how far the club moves back and through the ball.
The only difference between this stance and the putting stance is that due to the length of the hybrid, you will not be standing as close to the ball in your address position. In other words, you do not have to get your eyes over the ball.
The next situation does not happen all that often but is difficult to execute properly using the traditional chip shot.
The situation is when your ball comes to rest on the fringe of the green with the ball touching the edge of the deep rough.
In other words, your stroke has to travel through deep rough before it makes contact with the ball.
Deep rough, especially when the ball is buried (deep in the grass) creates plenty of havoc with golfer’s emotions.
Deep rough, by its nature is challenging for most players to advance the ball forward with a full swing that has plenty of speed and power.
Attempting to make a small stroke through deep rough and expecting to make good contact with the ball is an extremely difficult task for the expert golfer.
The problem with making clean contact in deep rough is the fact that the grass gets caught between the club face and the ball.
It’s the grass that slows down the club and creates inconsistent contact. Now as golfers, we know this. Therefore when faced with this situation we begin to alter our swings and the results are often poor.
Try using the most lofted club in your bag like a sand wedge when faced with this situation. Get set up in you putting stance and make a few putting strokes with the sand wedge.
The idea of this shot is to make contact with the middle of the ball using the leading edge of the sand wedge. In other words you are attempting to skull the ball.
These are only two ideas of how you can lower your scores when faced with a situation that’s not only difficult but that you may no be comfortable with.
There are many different tools that you can use to get the job done but it is your creativity that will assist is seeing your way to lower scores.
Scott Bergdahl is the teaching pro at the Lakewood Golf Resort near Sylvan Lake.