The number one comment I hear from new students when I ask what their golf goal is: “I want to become more consistent.” “I want to have consistent contact.” To get consistency for chipping/pitching, here are a few things that need to happen. You need to master center of the clubface contact, direction and distance control. If you can master these three things, you are sure to gain the consistency you are looking for and lower your scores.
Here are some of my favorite drills and things to think about to master the three short game secrets. The first one is the ruler drill for consistent centeredness of contact as well as direction.
For this drill, get a six-inch ruler, place it under the glove of your lead wrist and hit shots focusing on the ruler not digging into your lead arm and finishing with your lead wrist bowed and the logo of your glove facing your target.
Your finish should look like the logo of glove is facing the target and back of lead wrist flat and bowed.
I find this one of the simplest ways to chip. Start with your feet clubhead width apart, ball position in the middle of your stance; stand closer to the ball at setup, allowing the club to be slightly more vertical at setup and grip down on the club slightly. From here, put your weight on your lead side, have 80 percent of your weight on your lead side. Once you have gotten set up, make your putting stroke back and through, keeping the club head low to the ground back and through.
One of the mistakes I see is students hinging their wrist everywhere around the green, making massive swings, allowing the clubhead to get in the air too much, causing inconsistencies with centeredness of contact, direction and distance control. To hit this shot consistently, keep the clubhead low to the ground, making the same length swing back and through and same tempo back and through. I find a lot of students forget to think about their tempo on the swing back and through, and their tempo either speeds up on the downswing or slows down causing many different misses and making it hard to be consistent with contact and distance control.
An incorrect chip technique ends with a lot of chunked, thinned and topped shots (logo of glove facing the sky and back of lead wrist cupped). If you are looking to hit the ball high or use the bounce of a wedge, this finish is good, but for a simple shot, this is not a finish you want.
I love talking about distance control with students and how to get the ball to finish closer to the hole. One of the biggest mistakes with distance control is club choice. One thing I learned from Jim McLean and Butch Harmon is get the ball on the ground as soon as possible when around the green.
One way I like to teach this to students is by thinking about other sports. If you’ve ever played baseball, basketball or football, think about how much easier it is to hit a target that is five yards away versus one that is 10 or 20 yards away.
With this being said, why would you not hit a shot that gets on the ground sooner than one where you are carrying the ball all the way to the hole. I see amateurs hit sand wedges and lob wedges around the green way too much, meaning they have to carry the ball 50 percent of the way between the fringe and the hole or closer to the hole, whereas if you hit a 9-iron or 8-iron now you only have to carry the ball ¼ of the way between the fringe and the hole and the ball will roll the rest of the way. Meaning you take a smaller swing to get the ball to the hole, so if you miss-hit the ball it will end up closer to the hole than if you are hitting a sand wedge and miss-hit the ball because you are having to take a much bigger swing with a sand wedge to get the ball to the hole.
I challenge you with this drill; pick a target 20 yards from your simple shot, not carrying over something and doesn’t have a lot of break. Hit 10 golf balls with a sand wedge or the club you would normally use, then hit 20 balls with a 9-iron, 8-iron or 7-iron making your putting stroke. Which club averages closer to the hole? This is your new go-to club on this shot. I would love to hear your feedback when you do this. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject wedge challenge to give me your feedback.
Words of wisdom for the next time you’re out playing: remember golf is a game! I find too often it is over-complicated; keep it simple and have fun! “Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.” -Dr Bob Rotella. I love this quote!
I find too many people constantly focus on trying to hit the perfect shot or have the perfect swing. There is no such thing as a perfect swing, as there are hundreds of ways to swing a golf club. There is also no perfect way to get the ball in the hole … that can be done in so many different ways. I love helping people play the game I love better. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!