Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #43
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I played golf with three beginners this past Saturday so it was lesson time. With practice they will all be able to hit the ball farther than me off the tee… of course they are between 18 and 40 years younger than me, but I noticed where they were really losing a lot of strokes was in chipping around the green. You know your short game needs work when you reach a par 4 in two shots but it takes you six to get down from the fringe. If you are having trouble chipping the ball close to the hole, maybe this lesson will help you too.
Like I told them do as I say, not as I do… Although I did sink a 30-foot putt from off the edge of the green through some uneven terrain. First, I noticed one of the players was making an illegal swing. He was scooping or pushing his wedge shots. That’s a penalty. I call it a hockey chip. Even if the backswing is only an inch you have to stroke the ball or hit the ball. Having said that, let’s address the technique for making a chip shot.
We’ve covered chipping vs pitching before. You can refer to one of my earlier blogs for advice in that area.
Today’s lesson is on chipping, probably my favorite shot, because I used to be good at it. I like to select a club that will land on the edge of the green and roll the rest of the way to the cup. Some people always chip with the same club. That’s OK if you have more success with that approach but at least try my method and see if it works for you.
For a slick downhill chip or one of ten feet or less, I’ll use a pitching wedge. to get a pitching wedge to roll, play it back in your narrow stance with 60% of your weight on your left side (assuming you are a righty) and hit the ball with a descending blow. The ball will barely get off the ground and trickle toward the hole.
If the shot is 20 feet use a 9 iron. For a 30-foot chip try an 8 iron. And for a chip over 40 feet use a 7 iron. Those are just guidelines. Experiment to see what club works best for you. Remember there is no rule against using the Texas wedge. That’s putting from off the green. In compacted or wet sand with no lip, I’ve had success with the putter as well. With practice you should be able to get the ball regularly within a three foot circle and save your par or bogie. If the ball is sitting half on the green and half on the fringe, try using just the bottom edge of your wedge and blade the ball like a putt.
I can’t comment on using a 3-wood or hybrid club to chip with because I have not practiced that method, but I still feel confident with a 7 iron in my hand when I am negotiating a 40 foot chip. I’m disappointed if I don’t get up and down.
Once you are satisfied with your progress you can try more advanced shots like hooking a chip against a left to right slope or cutting a chip against a right to left break. For now, just hit a regular chip and play the break.
Hit ’em straight!