It’s all about being creative. I’ll bet you did not know that you had a little artist in you. Each and every one of us at one time or another has had to be creative on the course to advance our golf ball towards our target. If you can see it in your minds eye, you can make it happen.
If you have ever watched any of the professional golfers on television you will know exactly what I am referring to.
Quite often the players will hit an errant shot that puts them into a position that requires creativity and of course skill to advance their golf ball towards the hole.
This of course does not just happen to touring professionals. It does happen to all of us at one time or another throughout our round. In other words we have to use our imagination in many situations to advance our ball towards the hole.
Not every shot that you play is a straight forward, full swing to the middle of the green or fairway.
Using your imagination to create a shot in your mind’s eye is one thing; having the skill sets or knowledge to pull off the shot that you envision is something completely different.
Generally speaking, we can only imagine a particular type of shot if we have either seen it before or have been successful at executing it ourself prior to putting ourself in that position.
Understanding what you need to do, or changing your swing to make the ball take a particular trajectory is crucial to expanding your creative side. This is particularly true when we get around the green.
Having the ability to get the ball up and down (hitting the ball up onto the green, close to the hole and then making a one-putt) when you are close to the green will most certainly improve your overall enjoyment of the game and of course lower your scores.
The next three articles will cover exactly this topic. I shall discuss first of all the basics of the chip shot and the simple rules associated with them. In the next two articles I shall open your world up to learning how to break those simple rules to create different shots for different scenarios.
Learning the basic rules of the chip shot and becoming proficient at them will assist you in becoming more creative around the green, ultimately lowering your scores and impressing your playing partners.
A chip shot is a shot that is played in fairly close proximity to the green (generally no more than 10 feet away from the edge of the green). The idea of this shot is to hit it over the long grass, land the ball on the green as soon as possible and let it roll to the hole like a putt.
First of all, your feet will be close together (approximately six inches apart). Approximately 75 per cent of your weight will be positioned on your front foot.
ºThe ball will be positioned opposing your back foot with the club face square to your target and your hands ahead of the ball directly opposing your front leg.
Starting in the correct set-up position is extremely important. Everything we do is designed to give you the best opportunity to strike down on the ball. By doing so, the flight will be lower to the ground (just above the grass).
Once you are in a good set-up position, you now need to make the stroke. The stroke is a shoulder- and arm-driven motion.
You want to be sure to keep the lower body and head as still as possible. Having too much movement in your body will result in inconsistent contact with the ball.
One of the keys to hitting a good chip shot is to not use your wrists.
Too many players will take the club back and as they swing into the ball, their arms will stop right in front of them and they will flip their wrists. This typically is the main cause of most poor shots. We want to avoid using the wrists.
Like in all other areas of the game, there is a finish position for the chip shot.
Although different from the full swing, the finish position is where you swing through to where your hands and club are outside of your front leg. Ensuring you swing through to your finish position will assist in solid and consistent contact.
Distance is determined by how far the club goes back, not at the speed at which you swing into the ball.
Now, this statement is not exactly true.
In fact, it is the speed that we generate with the club that will hit the ball further or shorter, but it is how we generate that speed that becomes important.
Too many players will take the club back too far in the back swing and then will decelerate into the ball, causing them too flip their wrists.
Be sure to shorten your backswing for a shorter shot and lengthen your backswing for a longer shot.
The further back you take the golf club the more time it has to pick up speed, therefore the ball will travel further.
Remember to swing through to your finish position approximately the same distance you swung the club back.
Finally, tempo is a critical part to hitting the chip shot consistently. Tempo is defined as the speed at which you take the club back and then through the ball.
You want to ensure that when you take the club back slowly and smoothly and then accelerate into your finish position.
Do not attempt to rush into the shot as the result will be poor. I find that most players attempt to put too much energy into this small shot. The result from using too much energy is poor contact.
If you understand and apply tempo into your chip shot you will become much more consistent.
There are many clubs that you can use to hit a chip shot.
If you use a more lofted club such as a pitching wedge, then the ball will not roll as far as if you use a 7-iron. If you are beside the green and the flag is close to you then use a more lofted club, such as a pitching wedge.
If the flag is at the back of the green then try using a 7- or 8-iron so that you get more roll. Do not be afraid to experiment using different clubs as the result will be different.
The three basic rules that you need to apply are as follows. The first is to ensure the ball position is directly opposing your back foot.
The second is the club face should always be square to your intended target.
Finally, do not use your wrists. Applying these rules along with the proper set-up positions and tempo will assist in achieving a better result and ultimately lowering your scores.
Finally, practise, practise, practise. Understanding the basic concept of the chip shot is the first step to improving, but if you do not practise the results will stay the same. Enjoy the great weather and get golfing.
Scott Bergdahl is the teaching pro at Lakewood Golf Resort