Chipping Away
I've always admired golfers who can really chip the ball well. I have a couple of golf buddies here who are excellent chippers, and Ben Crenshaw is a master of chipping it close. For such a simple little stroke and challenge, chipping seems to be a part of the game that eludes many of us. The topic comes up today from a question from Pat S. a 17 hcp from Virginia, who wrote:
"I have devoted this year to improving my chipping. I understand that practice and feel is all about the short game. Depending on the shot, I either use a 56* sand wedge or a 9-iron, then I pick a spot to land the ball and off I go. I have improved my chipping a lot but I want to get better. Then a golf buddy says to start getting my chips inside 4 feet of the hole. That was a revelation to me because I had been concentrating on landing the ball more than getting it to the hole. So, do you have any insight on what I can work on or how I can accomplish this? Thanks!"
Well, Pat, the fact that you are willing to learn and practice puts you miles ahead of most golfers in this category. A good short game just cannot be achieved without a commitment to both. In watching the best chippers, it seems that their chipping “stroke” is very similar to their putting stroke in style, form and pace. Ben Crenshaw chips with that same syrupy motion that defines his beautiful putting stroke. Likewise, the two totally different styles used by the two golf buddies I mentioned above both resemble their putting style a lot. One uses a more stiff-wristed technique, just like his putting. The other, who is a doctor with delicate touch, uses a more Crenshaw-like rhythmical stroke not dissimilar from his putting stroke.

I personally use two different chipping techniques, depending on the chip I am facing. If I simply have to carry a few feet of collar and then get the ball rolling, I’ll choose a mid-iron or short iron, depending on the balance of carry and roll, and grip down on the club so that I can essentially putt the ball. This works with a hybrid really well too if the ball is sitting down a bit. In this technique, realize that the club you are “putting” with is much lighter than your putter, so you want to grip the club much lighter to emphasize your touch and control. It takes just a little practice to see what different clubs will do with this putt/chip technique.

On chips where the ball has to be carried more than just a few feet, I prefer a chipping technique that is more like a pitch swing. I position the ball back of center of my stance to ensure clean contact, and set up more like a short pitch shot. I usually hit this kind of chip with one of my wedges, depending on the balance of carry and roll needed to get the ball to the hole. And I like the spot chipping technique you seem to be favoring, Pat. While sizing up the shot, I find a very distinct spot on the green where I think the ball needs to land to roll out with the club/trajectory I envision. From that point on, my complete focus is on that spot, NOT the hole. That loads my brain with the input it needs to tap into my eye/hand coordination. I think many golfers chip long too often because they focus on the hole, rather than where the shot needs to land, so their “wiring” imparts too much power. Just my thinking there.

One of my favorite drills for practicing chipping like this is to take a bucket/bag of balls to the end of the range where no one is hitting, and practice chipping to different spots – divots, pieces of turf, etc. – at various ranges, from 2-3 feet out to 20-30. I do this with different wedges and controlling for different trajectories, just to load my memory banks with the feel of hitting to a spot with different clubs. Then, when I face a chip on the course, I’m prepared.

I hope all that helps you, Pat, and thanks for writing in to “The Wedge Guy”. I hope you enjoy your new EIDOLON wedge.


photo source
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[ comments ]
TravisMiller says:
I have been using the Rule of 12 as has been discussed in the forums many times. I have found it easier and really reliable in getting me close. I just need to practice it more to get better. Here is a link to the video for it.

www.rivercityhackers.com/component/option,com_hw
9/21/10
 
birdieXris says:
2nd the rule of 12 here
9/21/10
 
Agustin says:
The Rule of 12 RULES :)
9/21/10
 
rmumph1 says:
You will Rule the greens if you use the Rule of 12.
9/21/10
 
mjaber says:
Did you guys all drink the same kool-aid? :)
9/21/10
 
Kickntrue says:
@mjaber- i agree. I have no clue what the rule of 12 is- and i've never felt so left out.
9/21/10
 
rmumph1 says:
First Rule of Rule of 12 club: don't talk about the kool-aid
9/21/10
 
Banker85 says:
I didnt know what it was either until i seen the vid from Trav. i dont like chipping with irons so not sure if it would work for me. to much math, game is too complicated as. how about "rule of whatever works for you."
9/21/10
 
Bryan K says:
I tried out the "rule of 12" for a bit this summer. It was too much thinking. Plus, the courses I play have wildly different green speeds, so the rule of 12 doesn't always work.

I will say, though, that chipping is by far the best part of my game. Part of the reason for that is that I love it so much. It makes practicing a lot easier, and I have practiced for a lot of hours over the course of the summer. I still have some bad chipping rounds, though, especially if the rough is long.

Now, I'm going to get on my soapbox here and say that any article on chipping that doesn't mention the hinge-and-hold technique (or at least mention the fundamentals behind it) is seriously lacking (cont'd).
9/21/10
 
Bryan K says:
Last summer, I was a mid-iron chipper. I evolved from that into a lob-wedge chipper this summer. This year, I have learned to use whatever wedge I need to get the desired roll. Plus, I let my lie be the determining factor in what kind of shot I use. If I'm just off the green buried in deep rough, I'll pull out my lob wedge and try to lift it out even if I have a lot of green to work with. If the ball is fluffed up in the rough, I'll put it back in my stance and try to get very little trajectory. If it's a beautiful fairway lie, I'll use whatever club will get me the desired roll once it hits the green.

But the one fallacy I see so many people make is pretending that the chip is like a putt. It's not. When you putt, you are trying to hit the ball smoothly and uniformly. When you chip, you need to swing down at the ball. Essentially, a chip is more like a full swing with the wrist action removed than it is like a putt.
9/21/10
 
Swingem says:
Pelz also has a well analyzed and quantified short game program that makes it sound like the path to great golf is a Driver, a putter, a couple of irons, and seven wedges. all you need to do is groove three different swings with each wedge and you'll be getting your tour card in short order. All you need to do is tape an excell spreadsheet to the shaft of your wedges and......Fuhgetaboudit! Practice-Practice-Practice with a couple of clubs you trust. No amount of math or mechanics will substitute for feel. Most of the great short game players have done their best work with one or two clubs.
9/21/10
 
onedollarwed says:
The rule of 12 as in the video doesn't account for elevation, firmness, grain, wind, slope, moisture, lie, sunspots, dingo dung, fox scat, tiers, tears, tears for fears, or pap smears. Otherwise, it might be of some use. Ok, ok, the officianados of the cult of 12 can now give all the subrules: add and subtract fractions of clubs for every given case...

Anyway, I second the guy who said the type of lie determines the club I use. I am most likely to use my 52/08 way back by my right foot and punch brush it. I have a punchy putting stroke as well, as Wedgeguy may have predicted. I'm officially drinking the "non rule of 12 punchy punch" instead of the kool aid! We can compare putts after GIR - punch vs. kool aid?
9/21/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
I started using the "12" system and it has really worked well for me.
I have gotten to the point where I no longer need to walk off distances but can eyeball it.
Now if i could just drop my chips consistently on the green landing spot.
9/21/10
 
Banker85 says:
@Kurt: not sure if that last sentence was the punchline, but everything you say seems to have this haha context. lol
9/21/10
 
birdieXris says:
@onedollarwed - the rule of 12 is great because it's like using the line on the ball when you're putting. you take something out of the equation. Yes, there are certain things you need to know before you choose, like distance, lie, green speed - but you need to know that with ANY club choice. IT's really as simple as if the green is rolling, use a club with more loft, if the green is slow, use one with less. What it does is give you a starting point.
9/21/10
 
legitimatebeef says:
God has gifted me with the ability to chip the ball. But there are a lot of people struggling out there, I see it all the time. More often than not people are flipping the club at the ball with some wrist action. That and ineffective setup, meaning that ultimately they are anxious over the ball just hoping not to embarrass themselves. Forget about aim and distance, which is exactly what good chippers focus on.

To chip it close you need a good repeatable setup that you trust. From there the basic stroke is not hard. It's not that different from a putt stroke, plus a little wrist cock on the backswing. Develop a trust in your setup and stroke, only then can you truly focus on what matters during a round: good aim and even more importantly hitting it the right distance.
9/21/10
 
windowsurfer says:
www.rivercityhackers.com/component/option,com_hw

That's convincing. Thx for posting. I suspect that the variables are where the skill and feel come into the picture. Thanks too, to onedollarweds hilarious comment. A golf haiku as moving as a morning turd:

FIRMness, grain, CUT+slope
MOISture, lie, summer sun, foxSCAT
Tiers, tears for fears. Pap smears.
9/22/10
 
Jhawker says:
The Rule of 12 is only good on FLAT GREENS ... DUH
9/22/10
 
stedar says:
The rule of 12 works.
Chipping over obstacles (like bunkers) is a must, can't roll the ball too much there. But you need to be aware of the pro side of the hole. The pro side is the side that makes it easier to putt if you miss the hole - eg: if you land the ball on the up slope towards the hole, it will stop sooner, but make it easier to putt up hill than go past the hole and try to navigate down the slope, vice -a- versa, trying to roll a ball down slope, you need to be able to get it past the hole so at least you are putting back up.
Check out the rule of 12 on the first reply, it is worth a look.
As far as math goes, it is not as important as the feeling you have for how far the ball rolls with each club. Greens are all different, but if you can putt them, you can definitely choose a club to roll them.
It's a bit like into wind and down wind, your club choice is very different for each to allow you to carry the same distance.
9/22/10
 
aiyyer says:
Chipping is all feel like a drop volley in tennis. I am tennis player with bad knees that made the switch to golf and got hooked. I think math and rules take the element of touch and feel out of the game. I am a 16 handicap [with no business to talk} and have no issues playing a sand wege for all chip shots and getting it close enouh for a two putt!!
Golf is already way too complicated with 14 clubs and trying to figure out one shot with three or four clubs seems messy. It just seems easier to feel the stroke to the hole based on all the parameters [speed, lie etc}. In most sports you use one implement to execute a variety of shots by clsoing and opening the face, gripping down etc but in golf....
9/22/10
 
SteveS says:
I just about 56yo and started playing golf 6 years ago. As an engineer, I've tried everything that requires precision or sometning that can be calculated; Pelz, rule of 12, whatever. I have found that my training and 30 years engineering experience doesn't cut it on the golf course, especially the short game; it's all about feel and practice. I practice chipping and pitching everyday in my backyard (which by the way backs up to the 8th tee box of the local course). I liken it to tossing a ball underhanded, I don't think about distance, how far my backswing is, what's my follow-thru, etc. I just let my brain (whatever is left)and feel (past experience/practice)takeover.
9/23/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
the basic premise of the rule of 12 (the way I understand it) is that as in putting, it's much easier to control the ball when it's rolling towards the pin verses flying. If you didn't have a club in your hand and had to toss a ball at the pin, what would be more accurate, throwing the ball at the pin or rolling it towards the pin? Same concept. Also, if you use a consistent landing spot (the safe spot 1 yard onto the green), and you can consistently hit it to that spot, then it's a matter of letting the loft of the club carry the ball to the pin. The more you practice it, the easier it gets. After a while, there's not even that much math involved as you can start eye-balling the distances verses pacing it off. But like anything, you have to actually try it a few times to see if it works for you and my guess is that those who disagree with the rule of 12 haven't actually tried it :)
9/23/10
 
Kickntrue says:
@kvsmith59- i get it. thanks for the explanation.. though where's the "12" come in?
9/23/10
 
birdieXris says:
it was originally the rule of 11, but that was a while ago. These days, since the manufacturers are making things stronger lofts these days it had to change to 12. the "12" is just part of the equation formula. It doesn't really "mean" anything, although i suppose you could say that it's the number of usable clubs to chip, excluding driver and putter.
9/23/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
"Jhawker says:
The Rule of 12 is only good on FLAT GREENS ... DUH"

Thats the starting point, a flat green, then you adjust up and down based on an uphill, downhill lie, etc. Just like you would any other shot.
9/23/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Oob is way too much fun - especially the "Hai-poo."
But back to wedgeguy's original points: chipping to specific spots or targets (not a rule of 12 rule, but a prerequisite) for practice, using a couple of different clubs in broadly defined situations, and focussing on the spot not the hole when hitting.

In this case the practice mostly matches the performance. Is there a way to specifically practice reading greens in a contrived off course manner? The rule of twelve doesn't include this either. It's great to use systems because they offer a starting point, a level of comfort and 3rd party blame.
9/23/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Most of golf is making good contact with the ball no matter what club or situation, once you can do that, your welcome to world of golf mental problems:
Reallywannadahitthe-otherclubitis
La-ChipGrip
Imforunda-vomitosis
Eniwarebutthere syndrome
Weallcanhit300 delusions of grandeur
Littlestrokesdoncountoriais
Prefereverylie prevaricator syndrome
Threeputt paranoia
Idonhavtapraxia
Givebutdontakead-vice
Naimbran overdose
9/23/10
 
windowsurfer says:
Tried out the Rule of 12 tonight on the course.

OK. It's a bit off-putting to your "feel". Rule of 12 is to golf what facebook is to relationships; it's kind of wooden. Not in a good way.

Having said that, (a fav lead-in to prevarication) I can see how it can help you lean on routine. I suppose someone with patience and skill could layer in some 'feel' and create a hybrid methodology that resulted in up-and-downs, even in real-life situations with lots of variables.

Guess that means practice, huh?
9/24/10
 
Bryan K says:
As far as "feel" goes in the chipping game, I actually kind of disagree. I always like to have a distance to the pin. However, I do agree with the statement that the object of chipping is to get the ball to land where you want it. And when you are deciding where you want it to land, how you want it to roll should be taken into account.
9/24/10
 
windowsurfer says:
No worries, Bryan. My 13 HC means I'm no expert. I used to use 8i for all lots-of-green chips and SW for short ones. Now I carry and use 60-56-50-47 (lob-sand-gap-pw). I use a kinda sweeping shot (low traj/bad lies) and also a steeper attack that pops up more. The 'feel' I'm talkin about is the knowledge of what the club will do in the situation and the confidence that u can pull it off. The Rule o 12 (etc.) gives you a framework upon which to build that feel, I think. I felt like if I relied on Ro12 too heavily, I lost the athletic/intuitive inputs that make a good chipper. (I miss so many damn greens, I've gotta get up in down!)
9/24/10
 
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