Getting Quiet Hands
I've talked about "quiet hands" as a core fundamental of short game success on a number of occasions. It's not just something you think about, it's a basic building block of a short game that will serve you well. As a result of that dialog, I received a very pointed question from David W. on the subject. I want to share David's whole inquiry to set up today's post:
"A question about chipping and pitching. I know I need to keep the hands quiet, but occasionally this leads me to quit on the shot and hit it fat or leave it short. It seems the thought or instinct to NOT release aggressively like a full shot, or in other words, the physical and mental part that is "holding off" or "holding back" seems to express itself in not just in the hands, but unfortunately shows up in the arm swing and the body core turn - leading to a bad shot and a wasted stroke. Any secrets to managing these quiet hands without quitting on the short game shot?"
This is kind of timely as I played in a different "game" on Sunday at my club than I usually do. These guys are mid-handicappers and really play the game for fun, rather than the blood-thirsty “action” of my other group. But they still want to play well, of course. I watched a couple of the guys really struggle around the greens, as they just flip the clubhead at the ball with their right hand. Sometimes it works, but they hit way too many really gawd-awful shots and run their scores way up.

So, David, you’ve acknowledged that “quiet hands” is desirable . . . your challenge is doing it. Let me see if I can help here. To begin with, it’s hard to think of “not doing” things in the golf swing. I much prefer to find positive things TO do, rather than things NOT to do. So, rather than think of “holding off” or “holding back”, let’s substitute another entire thought process.

What you want to feel on these short chips and pitches is that your arms and hands – and therefore the club – are driven ONLY by the rotation of your body core. I keep a file of clippings of photos of tour pros that I cut out of the golf magazines anytime I see one that illustrates the connection of the hands and body in a short chip or pitch. I’ve illustrated today’s article with this one of Joe Ogilvie to illustrate how the hands are still right in front of his sternum and belt buckle as he’s finishing a short pitch.

So, to help you achieve this goal, try to change your mental focus from the movement of your hands to the rotation of your body core, and to keeping your hands connected to that rotation – not ahead of the body either going back or coming through. You want to feel like your arms and hands only move as a result of your body core movement. Rotate back in one piece . . . release through in one piece. You can practice this in your living room or basement, without even having a club in your hand.

To learn this, I really like the “help” provided by one of the shortened training clubs with extra weight on it. If you’re handy, you can make one of your own by cutting down an old wedge to about 24” long, filling the shaft with sand and re-installing a grip on it (build up the shaft to about 5/8” diameter with tape first). This shortened club can be used inside your home or office and lets you really feel the one-piece rotation I’m talking about.

Let me know how this works, David, and as always, I invite all of you to chip in your own ideas about how David might get the light bulb to come on.


photo source- Getty Images via Terry Koehler
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[ comments ]
Bryan K says:
There is another great training aid that can be used to try to keep one's hands in front of the body on short chip shots. It involves lengthening a standard chipping club, like a sand wedge, so that the shaft comes all the way up to one's shoulders. The objective is to keep that extended shaft from hitting the body at any point in the swing.
5/25/10
 
HotBacon says:
@bjohn13 - A regular broom works for this drill too.
5/25/10
 
DiC says:
"I invite all of you to chip in"... Was that deliberate?
haha
5/25/10
 
mdv612 says:
hinge and hold method works really well for me
5/25/10
 
BigDoctorJ says:
@DiC, I saw that too, half expected a "no pun intended"
5/26/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@mdv612 - I agree, hinge and hold changed my life. To me it's almost the exact opposite from what is being discussed here. It's very much about hand movement (hinging and holding the wrist). Did you adopt it after watching Phil Mickelson's video?
5/26/10
 
DiC says:
What's people's thoughts on the Mickelson dvd?
Keep hearing about the 'hinge and hold' method and wondering what exactly it is, whether it's worth trying..?
What are the advantages / disadvantages against the 'quite hands' idea in this article?
5/26/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
Mickelson DVD changed the way I chip. I made the change this year and love it. Phil makes a very strong statement in the DVD. He says all great chippers uses the method that he calls the hinge and hold. See this article for a description of the hinge and hold. ( www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2009-04/make . The advantage according to Phil is that it gives you a steeper angle of decent on the ball so the club is less likely to get caught up in the grass. I have found this to be the case. I make much better contact with the ball using this method. The first time I tried it I was sold.
5/26/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
Sorry the here is the correct link to the article

www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2009-04/make
5/26/10
 
Bryan K says:
Okay, I just read up on hinge and hold. There seems to be a lot of confusion between the terms "pitch" and "chip" just about everywhere in the golf world. What was discribed in the article I read is exactly how I approach my pitch shots...shots that I dont't want a lot of roll out of once they hit the green.

My chip shots...shots that I do want a lot of roll out of once they hit the green, will have the ball back in my stance, close club face, and a hinged wrist at address.

I tend to play pretty well around the greens and suck pretty much everywhere else.
5/26/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@bjohn13 - In Mickelson's DVD he demonstrates using the hinge and hold for chips around the green, pitches from 50 yards out, and from the bunker. He discusses the adjustments he makes for each.
5/26/10
 
coojofresh says:
nice advice.
5/27/10
 
wedgeguy says:
I thought more of you guys would call me on the "chip in" thing. Yes, it was a fun pun. As for comparing my "quiet hands" thought to the hinge and hold, I think there is a lot of synergy. The idea is to keep the hands less active, as opposed to the technique you see employed by so many amateur golfers where they "flip" the clubhead at the ball with a wristy action. There's no way you can argue with Phil's method, as he is one of the very best. The key here is to watch all these guys around the greens. You'll never duplicate their full swings but anyone can learn from their short games, where strength is negated.
5/27/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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