June 2009

Chipping

Author: Pete Popovich

Proper setup is just as important in chipping as it is in other parts of the game. Once you set up properly, the motion becomes easier and more efficient.
The objective of chipping is accuracy. When gripping the club, it is recommended you grip down 2-3 inches lower than a full swing grip. Shortening the club gives you more control. Your stance is slightly open (20-30 degrees), giving you a better view of the target line; weight is distributed evenly. Your feet are flared towards the target and are approximately four inches apart.

Low Runner-Ball is positioned to the right of center, with the hands forward, (a limited backswing is needed because the club is de-lofted). Hands stay ahead of the club head the entire swing. Because the ball is behind the center of your stance, contact is made with the ball before the ground. This shot is used when there is limited fringe/rough and a lot of green between you and the hole.
Medium Height-Ball is positioned in the middle of the stance. Hands are slightly ahead of the ball at address. The backswing and forward swing are of equal distance. Because the club contacts the ground and the ball at the same time, “pinching” the ball off the turf. This shot is used when you have an equal amount of fringe/rough and green between you and the hole.

High/Soft-Ball is positioned left of center in the stance with the hands slightly behind or even with the ball. It is very important to follow through to a high finish on this shot. The bottom out position of the club will be at the back of the ball requiring a “sweeping” action. This shot is used when you have a lot of fringe/rough and limited green between you and the hole.

Tips:
• More loft adds spin
• Increase Loft-open the clubface or play the ball forward in your stance
• Decrease Loft-move the ball back in your stance or close the clubface

Distance Wedges
Wedges are the scoring clubs and need to be hit with precision. Most golfers, hit their wedges straight but have problems controlling distance. The most effective way to control distance is by using the “clock method.”
The “clock method” is achieved by taking ¾ , ½, and ¼ swings and relating them to a giant clock around the golfer. For example, on the ¾ swing, the left arm (for a right handed golfer) would be taken to a spot on a clock resembling 10:30; on a ½ swing, the left arm would be taken to a spot on the clock resembling 9:00; and on a ¼ swing, the left arm would be taken to a spot on the clock resembling 7:30. All three swings are made to a full finish. Grip and posture are the same as in the full swing. The stance is slightly open to aid in shortening the length of the swing. The ball is positioned so the back of the ball is at the center line of your stance.

Tip: The distances between your three swings will be approximately 5-10 yards. To fine tune those distances, try the following:

*Grip Position*—Holding the club halfway down the grip will reduce your distance by approximately 2-3 yards. Gripping further down the club, closer to the steel, will reduce the distance another 2-3 yards.

Sand
The majority of golfers dread sand shots. This is because most golfers do not understand how to play from the sand. Playing correctly from the sand is not very difficult once you understand how.

Set-Up-Just as with chipping, the stance is open to the target and shoulder width apart.

Ball Position-We have all heard the phrase, “when playing from the sand, hit two inches behind the ball.” If the ball is not in the proper place, hitting two inches behind the ball can be extremely difficult. As with any golf swing, the swing arc will bottom out approximately one inch inside the left instep. Therefore, to contact the ground two inches behind the ball, the ball needs to be placed two inches forward of this spot, which is the front of the left instep.

VERY IMPORTANT
When hitting from sand you are not contacting the ball. You are moving sand out of the bunker, and the ball goes with it. In moving approximately ¼ pound of sand from the bunker, with the ball on top, you need to have acceleration. It is imperative to follow through to a full finish when hitting from sand. If you stop your club in the sand, your chances for success are greatly limited.

Tips: To support your swing without slipping and establish firm footing, dig your feet into the sand until the bottom of your feet are lower than the bottom of the ball.

Because your stance is open, the clubface needs to be open too. For a higher shot open your stance and the clubface more; for a lower shot bring your stance and the clubface closer to square.

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