Playing and competing on some of the Thailand’s finest golf courses, and in some of the tough weather conditions imaginable, it is simple, you are going to miss the greens. Even the world’s best golf players do, particularly on days when their game is a bit off for various reasons.
The remedy: develop a little imagination and feel for a sound chipping technique and how to employ it with a variety of different clubs. Doing so will give you the confidence and belief that you can get it up-and-down from anywhere, because as you improve and get the ball closer to the hole on a consistent basis, the more often you will turn three shots into two.
In other words, we’re talking par here, not bogey. And as the saying goes: there is no such thing as a bad par. But even better, once you really improve your technique, you might hole one or two of your chips per round, and that can lead to birdie – and perhaps make the difference between an average score and that dream round.
Most chips are hit from just off the green, and the immediate goal is to get the ball onto the putting surface as soon as possible, so it can roll and react like a putt. Ideally, you want your chip shot to spend only a little bit of time in the air, and most of the time running along ground.
At the Leadbetter Golf Academy Bangkok, we actually tell our students to think of a chip shot as a long putt. Once they assess their lie, and how much green they have to work with, we want them to choose a club that gives them the best opportunity to chip it close. Then they are simply trying to land the ball on a specific spot on the putting green in order for it to roll out to the hole. This is where imagination, feel, and one’s personal preference in club selection all come into play.
Our goal is not only to help you build a great chipping action, but to present the many chipping options and club selections that will help you develop that feel and imagination for the vast variety of situations a golfer faces after missing a green.
For instance, we would urge you to never limit yourself to one club when it comes to chipping. Many amateurs automatically reach for their 56- or 60- degree wedges when this shot presents itself – just as they see Touring pros do on TV.
But that’s a mistake for the average player. All Touring pros have a world of experience behind them and spend hours honing their technique with those clubs. Plus they are playing on faster, firmer, and more undulating greens, and perhaps from deep rough, where they need to hit the ball higher and land it softly.
The average club player isn’t likely to ever face conditions that difficult. So, despite what they see the pros do on TV, they are always surprised when we show them how much more reliable a mid- to short iron, a fairway wood, or even a putter are in most green-side situations. In other words, these are the sorts of conditions you will face, not those pros dealing with.
We also urge our golf students to allocate a sizable portion of their practice time to the various chipping options and drills outlined in this blog page. We know that helps them develop a whole new dimension to their short game and their ability to get the ball up and down. The sooner they start visualizing the trajectory and roll of the ball more clearly, the sooner they realize that’s just as important as technique when it comes to great chipping.
But here’s the really good news: we often find that improvements in a student’s chipping action have a positive impact all the way back to his or her ball striking. When an amateur player finally learns how to execute a chip shot with a nice, crisp, downward blow onto the back of the ball, and how to put some forward lean on the shaft at impact – instead of their old, early-release scooping action- an exciting moment usually follows.
That’s because the correct chipping technique mimics the crucial moment of impact in the full swing, and if you can do one, you can learn how do other. Make no mistake, mastering precise, short-game skills also translates into big-time improvements in your overall long game.