By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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Chipping is probably the strongest part of my game 9 handicap. My goal is to raise my pathedic GIR (26%)but living in West Texas with consistant 20+MPH winds makes it difficult on the small greens at our club. I use a 52 degree wedge primarily hitting low running chips. For long chips close to the green I like a hybrid or 7 iron depending on the lie (uphill / downhill) for short downhill chips I use a 56 degree and choke down.
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