Refine Your Backswing

An efficient backswing helps you hit solid, straighter shots. Use these two checkpoints I've been working on. Early on, you want to make sure the clubhead travels more along the target line than to the inside (top). This helps cure my block/hook problem, but will help a slicer stop the over-the-top move of whipping the club inside and then looping it outside on the downswing. Next, I make sure my right elbow stays close to my body at the top. Sometimes Tiz holds it in for me (above, left). When he's not around, I bunch my shirt under my armpit and hold it there as I swing back. Today my backswing is shorter and easier to control.

It's hard to hit straight shots when the club gets too far inside (top) and your right elbow disconnects from your body (bottom).

Try My 'Dead-Hands' Chipping Style

There are a couple of reasons you can work on your chipping outdoors in the winter:
(1) Because it's not a big swing, you can wear a heavy jacket and not feel too restricted.

(2) If you get good at chipping off frozen turf, you'll be really good off lush grass after everything thaws.

Most pros hinge their wrists abruptly in the backswing on a chip shot to generate clubhead speed and create backspin. But I've found that my "dead-hands" approach, with very little wrist hinge, gives me more consistency. The ball doesn't stop as quickly, but I can always count on it behaving the same way. Plus, the swing is simpler and easier to repeat, so I recommend it to amateurs.

At address, set your weight favoring your left side and lean the shaft slightly forward (that's all the wrist hinge you'll need). Then take the club back with your shoulders and forearms. All your hands do is hold onto the grip. The thought you want is to drag the clubhead through impact. Sometimes when amateurs have too much wrist set, their impulse is to release it on the way down and flick at the ball. With my style, the hands and wrist stay quiet.

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