by Kevin Haime, PGA of Canada, Kevin Haime Golf Centre
I’m spending a lot of time these days working with my high performance coaching juniors. For the most part these are junior golfers with a huge passion for the game and a serious dedication towards improvement. Most of them are high seventies/ low eighties players who are trying to get their scores down to par or even lower.
We establish early on with them that the short game is the real difference maker when it comes to better scoring. I tell them the same thing that I would tell any golfer, “golf is a game of missed shots. You will never master ball striking so spend a lot of time building your short game skills.” And, for the most part they do that but, like all golfers, they try to make it too complicated. I see far too many lob shots and far too many 60 degree wedge shots for my liking. If you really want to save more pars and get up and down more often, work on a basic little chip shot.
At our school, we define a basic chip shot as an arm dominated putting type stroke from just off the green. The chip shot is the simplest shot in golf besides putting because it has very few moving parts. All you need to do is just bump the ball onto the green and let in run like a putt to the hole. It is extremely predictable and repeatable if you master a few simple fundamentals. When my better players are in a chipping situation I expect them to get up and down 7-8 out of 10 times.
Here are a few keys to great chipping:
1. Choose the proper club(s) to chip with: First of all, golfers who always chip with the same club are at a serious disadvantage. Chipping with different clubs sounds a little more difficult to newer players but it’s actually much simpler. Think about it. If you use one club, you have to constantly adjust your landing spot and rhythm which requires more skill. However, if you use different clubs you can always land the ball in the same spot just in front of you on the green and let your different lofted irons roll the ball the distance you need. You’ll have to practice a little bit to learn your flight to roll ratios with each club you chip with but once you know those ratios, the shot is way easier. I chip with a sand wedge when I want a 1:1 flight to roll ratio, a pitching wedge for a 1:2 flight to roll ratio, a 9 iron for a 1:3 and so on…..
2. Always set up the exact same way: If you want your chip shot results to be predictable and consistent, make sure you set up the same way over every shot. Weight distribution, hand placement and ball position must remain consistent every time you set up over a chip shot. Also, I prefer golfers to stand in normal posture. There’s really no need to choke down very much on the club. Have a look at the starting position photo on the opposite page and try to copy it.
3.Your body gives you rhythm: We describe the chip shot as an arm dominated shot but your body still plays a vital roll. I see way too many golfers standing flat footed and just brushing their arms back and forth when they chip. I prefer a little body rotation and even a little bit of forward leg motion to help you bump your club into the back of the ball. You’ll find that your forward body rotation is great for rhythm and strike consistency.