Once you have decided how you are going to play your chip shot and selected a club, it is time to make the shot and hopefully get the ball close to the hole. As stated last week, it is perfectly normal to take a few practice swings to get the “feel” of the shot you want to play. Let’s look some more at the mechanics of the swing used in chipping.
Your hands and wrists will be fairly “dead” through the whole swing. Your shoulders and chest, however, will be turning a great deal, and you may even feel some hip and leg motion. As in full swings, the primary swing motion is rotation. At set up you will notice that your arms and shoulders form a triangle. This triangle should remain intact during the entire swing, making the focal point of the swing rotation the breastbone. Turning around that point rather than swinging your arms and hands at the ball is essential for consistent contact and crisp chip shots.
Ideally you will have most of your weight on the front foot. That serves two purposes: One, it keeps you still, and two, it automatically helps the club make a descending blow on the ball. Once you are comfortable with the basic swing, you will notice that to increase or decrease the distance that you hit the ball, you merely increase or decrease the length of your swing.
Other than being a good putter, there is no shot that will more dramatically decrease your scores than chipping. For those of you who watch the PGA Tour on TV, the players seem to always chip it close.
Lastly, from my experience at the PGA Championship at Kiawah last year, I followed a young player called Bud Cauley on Friday in the second round. On the front nine he missed eight of nine greens but still shot one under for the nine. He chipped in once, made up and downs on the other seven chips and two putted the only green he hit!
Next we will look at pitching the ball.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.