Making Chips Do What You Want
Today we're talking about chipping, so let's start by trying to define chipping vs. pitching the ball. I adhere to the adage that if the ball is going to roll more than half of the distance to the hole, then it's a chip shot. If it's going to fly more than half way, it's a pitch. But when it comes to chipping, you still have some options as to how you want the fly/roll mix to happen. This topic was inspired by a question from Chuck S., who wins an EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge for "chipping in." (Sorry, I had to take that.) Specifically, Chuck asked:
I have two chip shots I like to play -- a higher, softer shot for close range chips, and for longer range shots I like to hit more of a bump and run. The problem I run into is that on a longer chip I tend to get more backspin, so no run. How do you take spin off the longer chip shots so that they run out?
Well, Chuck, I've written extensively about the science of spin (refer to the archives of TWG.com), but let’s talk about your situation precisely. The longer the swing and faster the clubhead speed, the more spin is going to be imparted to the ball – simple physics of golf. So, when you have a longer chip shot, and you want it to roll out, you can achieve this in a couple of ways. The first option is to choose a club with less loft so that you can swing it easier. The combination of reduced loft and lower clubhead speed will reduce the spin imparted to the ball at impact. The second way to make the ball roll out more is a little trickier, but a technique that, once learned, will greatly enhance your short game options. That is to slightly roll your hands/forearms through impact so that the face of the club is closing as it makes contact with the ball.

Let’s dissect the three basic things you can do to the clubface through impact to make the ball do different things.
1. For the basic chip shot, you are keeping your hands quiet through the impact zone. They are rotating back and through with the body core and forearms, so that the clubhead stays square to the swing path and makes solid contact with no manipulation. This causes the ball to react predictably; its air time a result of the loft of the club and its roll a function of flight and spin.

2. To make a chip shot fly a little higher and check up a little quicker, you can slightly “cut under” the ball by starting with the clubface a little open and rotating left a little more through impact while you hold that open position by keeping your hands very “quiet”. The path of your hands, and therefore the clubhead, cuts across the line from outside to in a little more than the simple chip described above. The ball will take a little more spin, and fly a little higher as the result of the increased loft and “sliced” impact. Hit this chip with the ball an inch or two further forward in your stance than its position for a basic chip.

3. To get to Chuck’s question specifically, sometimes you want to ensure that the chip does not check up to much, so that the ball will take a good solid roll after it hits the green. This shot is generally most useful when you have a lot of green to work with, or you are chipping up a slope or rise in the green. Play this shot with the ball back an inch or two from your basic position, and as you come through the impact zone, slightly roll your forearms (and therefore your hands, shaft and the clubhead) so that the face is closing slightly as you make impact. This serves to launch the ball a little lower with somewhat of a “hook spin” to it. It takes a little practice to get the hang of this, but once you figure it out, you’ll have added a very valuable shot to your arsenal around the greens.
I typically am a huge proponent of using one simple chipping and pitching swing or stroke, and altering the results you get by changing clubs. But there is no question that, as you continue to improve your short game, learning how to get the ball to do three different things with the same club will give you more scoring options. To practice this, go to the chipping/practice green with your gap or sand wedge and try hitting successive shots with the three techniques, using the exact same swing speed and length. Watch how the ball reacts to each and put that in your memory banks for use on the course later. It won’t take long to learn how slightly changing your clubhead path through impact can dramatically change how the ball flies and rolls.

Congratulations, Chuck, on winning a new EIDOLON wedge, and I’ll see you all again on Friday, when we’ll be talking about shafts – the “engine of the golf club”.


photo source
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[ comments ]
eventHorizon says:
I personally am not a big fan of using a specific amount of wrist rolling to add effect to my chip shots. To me it adds too much required touch and precision which with a slight mistake can cause large errors in results. Instead, to achieve the desired solution, I close my clubface (a lot... hood it), then grip the club normally (difference here is I don't grip it then close the face with your hands, instead close the face then grip). Chip with your normal method. The ball will come out a little lower as you've decreased the loft and same as Terry's method you will have put hook spin on it causing the ball to roll farther. Don't worry though, the hook spin is gone after the second bounce and won't effect the direction that it rolls. This is also helpful for tight lie chips as it forces the toe to dig into the ground first so the bottom of your club doesn't bounce into the ball.
5/11/10
 
TravisMiller says:
I am in agreement with Terry on switching clubs depending on the type of chip. 7 iron is great for chipping from the first edge of the rough if you have enough green. or if you are back a little further from the edge of the rough an 8 iron works well. This is the first I have ever heard of rolling the wrists to knock down the chip shot to create roll but it sounds too touchy. I will stick with my 7 & 8 irons.
5/11/10
 
Zepo1a says:
Doesn't opening or closing the face alter the direction the ball is going to go?
I don't really understand how this all works...

Right handed and looking down.
\ = Closed? Ball is going to go more left of where I was aiming.
| = Square? Ball going straight to where I setup to aim.
/ = Open? Ball is going to go more right of where I was aiming.

I always hit square so I really don't understand if my examples above are what people mean by opening and closing the face.
5/11/10
 
DiC says:
Zepo1a.
My guess is that your understanding is correct but you simply have to open or close your stance so that the club face is still 'square' to the target at impact - only now with more or less loft respectively. (kinda like hitting a mini draw or fade)

I am in agreement with the change to a less lofted club school of thought though.

Matt
5/11/10
 
Matt F says:
I use a 7, 8 or 9 iron for chipping, depending on the distance needed. I tend to use a putting stroke, which is working quite well. Saved my on the last hole on Monday...got the ball to within 6 inches from 5 yards off the front of the green.

Matt
5/12/10
 
eventHorizon says:
Zepola1,

Your understanding of closed, square, and open is correct (these angles are in comparison to the direction of the club at impact). Your logic is also correct as in if you were to make a putt with a closed face in comparison to the direction of the putter head, the ball would deflect to the left (for right handers).

However, where things get confusing, is that with large swing speeds, the club face compresses the ball (flattens it) and causes the ball to slide and roll on the club face for a very brief amount of time. During this time the club propels the ball forward in the direction that the center of the club is headed at impact (the ball is traveling with the club, not immediately deflecting off the face). The angle of the club face causes sidespin on the ball therefore making the ball hook or slice.

In summary, the path of your club at impact gives the ball direction and the angle of the club face at impact gives it the spin.
5/12/10
 
eventHorizon says:
Using a lower lofted club to chip is a great way to get the ball down on the ground quickly and roll the majority of the way. Giving the ball hook spin however is another method in your arsenal to obtain a similar shot... for instance if you still wanted the roll but needed it to fly a little farther.
5/12/10
 
Zepo1a says:
So Closed = less loft and Open = More loft? For chipping now, I use a club that looks like a mallet putter but has a sloped face. it puts a lot of back spin on the ball (which I like..if I hit it right :)). Not enough spin to roll backwards to me, but enough to make it slow way down when it hits the green.
5/12/10
 
SteveS says:
Don't forget about using the hybrid or 3,5,7 wood for those long chips with a lot of green. Choke down and make a putter swing and you get a nice low running chip that can get you through some fairway as well. Generally you don't have to worry about spin on these clubs; be careful the ball comes off the face hot, nothing a little practice wouldn't cure.
5/13/10
 
jeremyheslop says:
eventHorizon,

I think you might want to do some testing on the club path being the major determination of initial ball path. The club face is in fact the major determinate. Check these sites out: thesandtrap.com/playing_tips/ball_flight_laws www.playbettergolfblog.com/2009/11/understanding
5/13/10
 
Zepo1a says:
Very interesting links, jeremyheslop.

KVSmith59, I tried the Rule of 12..I was always 12 feet away from the hole (or more! :))
5/13/10
 
eventHorizon says:
Jeremy,

Thanks. At first I was about to jump about the physics you are referring to because you would be changing the laws of any sport that requires an impact of a ball with spin (tennis, table tennis, racquetball, baseball, etc.). However, I then read the articles and realized the people writing these articles have realized that it is actually the angular difference between the face angle and the direction of the club that is important. For instance, the example used for dramatic emphasis on the sandtrap link you gave was a push-draw where the guy had an open clubface and an inside-out swing. However, the inside out path was greater than the open clubface so the clubface was actually closed compared to the direction of the club... so the ball started as a push and then drew back.

That is correct and what I meant to say however I might have been confusing.
5/13/10
 
Neo says:
You all should try this before dismissing it completely. Even when "hooking" a chip shot with forearm roll (or hooding the face), it does not affect the direction of the shot as much as you think it would. I surprised myself when I first started trying it at how straight the shot goes.
5/13/10
 
stedar says:
@KVSmith59
Thanks for the rule of 12. I've been playing only the 6 iron and pitch from the edge of the green - and it makes perfect sense to use the rule of 12, rather than try to weight the shot.

Thanks ;-)
Steve
5/14/10
 
DiC says:
KVSmith59 - Wish I'd watched that video on the rule of 12 before going to the short course last night! I'd have take a few more clubs! - I was spraying the PW 2yds short, 4 foot past, half way to the hole, off the other side of the green! haha
Will have to give it a go at the weekend.
5/14/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
did it work?
5/18/10
 
DiC says:
It rained.... but I'm going tonight so will have a go if it's quiet enough to camp out on one green
5/26/10
 
DiC says:
It worked!
I had to adjust by one club from what the rule suggests (to fit my clubs I suppose - take a 6 if it should be a 7 etc) but it definitely worked! Took all the guess work out of judging the distance to chip. Hit it to the same place every time just vary the club used.
nice work!
5/27/10
 
ChrisDowning says:
I agree - one basic chip / pitch swing and vary the clubs. If you vary the amount of backswing (like the clock face method)you can have six lengths with each club and then use something like a 58 52 46 9i 8i range - that 5 clubs in six set lengths - if you already know the average carry and roll you can make additional minor adjustments for specific shots - that's 30 chips and pitches to your standard lengths - why wouldn't you want to go that way - unless you just don't want to work on your short game.
5/21/14
 
ChrisDowning says:
Add a 6i into that range as well and you have some long range chips and some bump and run pitches as well. I'm all for making the game simpler and knowing what I should be practicing. Looking at a 30 yard pitch and seeing the flag 12 yards on and knowing exactly what club and swing length will produce that shot is a no brainer for me. I know I have to finesse these 'standard' shots - but it has to be better than just making it up along the way. (This is the difference between following a recipe in cooking, or just making it up as you go.)
5/21/14
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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