By Doug Hammer, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
5 Steps to a better short game - #3 Chipping
Steps to a better short game - #3 Chipping
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) -- It's time to discuss something that is seldom talked about on the golf course or practice range, the chip yips. Yes, I said it, yips. And it is more common than you think. Most of us don't want to admit it, but the chip yips are very real and can be very devastating to a score.

The yips occur in a chip shot when a player is unsure of distance control. As in all golf shots, distance control is an effect of solid contact. If you are struggling with distance control, most likely you are not striking the ball solidly around the green. For example, that dreaded shot that comes off your club like a bullet and goes screaming over the green and back into the bunker is not a result of taking your eye off the ball or pulling your head. It is a result of striking the ball on the upswing as opposed to at the low point of the swing.

In my opinion, that is one of the biggest, if not the biggest revelation to come to when trying to improve your chipping. All thin or topped shots are a result of hitting the ball on the upswing as opposed to at the low point of the swing or even slightly on the downswing. Most players make the mistake of trying get under the ball more to make better contact. This can only make the problem worse. The other common reaction to a topped shot is to decelerate through impact to decrease the speed and keep the ball under control. This becomes the "yip".

Once you begin to decelerate in the forward swing, your body will stop, but the clubhead will keep moving, causing a flinching reaction at impact. This can result in wide range of shot patterns which can further push your confidence farther and farther away from you. Does any of this sound familiar?

The good news is this is not a difficult thing to fix. The first step, as mentioned above, is understanding the problem. We must strike the ball better by catching the ball on the downswing or at the low point of the swing. How do we do this?

  • Step 1: Narrow your stance. Having a more narrow stance at address will make it easier to play the ball back in the stance and can help avoid any excess body motion.
  • Step 2: Lean the handle of your chipping club toward the target. This will de-loft the club and present the leading edge of the clubface to the golf ball.
  • Step 3: MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Lean your upper body toward the target. When done properly you will feel your weight balanced on your lead foot (the foot closest to the target). If you were to stand balanced on your lead foot only, you will notice your upper body is over your lead leg to stay in balance.

    ** If you feel like you cannot get under the ball in step 3, good! You have done it properly! Remember, we are not trying to get more under the ball, we are trying to strike the ball at the low point of the swing.

    Now your goal is to maintain you setup keys throughout the duration of the chipping motion. Meaning as you take the club away, your upper body stays leaning toward the target with weight balanced on lead foot and the handle of the golf club more toward the target than the clubhead. This must be maintained through impact and into the finish. To really "feel" this, try my favorite chipping drill, the Flamingo Drill:

    Practice chipping on one foot
  • Get into your chipping setup and pick your trailing foot off the ground so you are balanced entirely on the lead leg
  • Make sure ball position is still back in the stance
  • Execute your chipping motion while staying balanced on your lead leg only.
  • Enjoy the results!

    Good luck conquering your chipping demons and keep improving those scores!

    Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club
    p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161
    10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf
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