Chipping Made Easy
Don't change your stroke, just adjust your setup
If you want to get really good at controlling your chipping distance, you could move to a warm-weather climate and spend two hours every day practicing. Or, assuming you have a fairly consistent chipping stroke, you can simply alter your setup depending on shot length.
Is Option B more practical? OK, here's how to do it: For a long chip, I address the ball with a slightly open stance and most of my weight on my left side (above, left). Even though the ball is in line with my back foot and the shaft is leaning toward the target, my head is behind the ball. This is crucial to hitting it crisp. From here, I swing the club back and through, and the ball comes off low and rolls a good distance.
When I need to hit a medium-length chip, I play the ball a little farther forward in my stance and lean the shaft a little less toward the target (above, middle). I'm still favoring my front foot, but my stance isn't as open because I don't need as much lower-body rotation to hit it the correct distance. It's also important to note that my head position hasn't changed.
For short chips, my weight distribution is 50-50, the shaft is perpendicular to the ground, and my hips are fairly square to the ball, which I'm playing off the heel of my front foot (above, right). This allows the natural loft of the club to pop the ball up, so it doesn't roll very far when it lands. Note: My head position is still the same.
HOW TO FOCUS ON A GOAL
The key to executing any shot is commitment. By that, I mean your attention must match your intention. When hitting a putt, your intention is to get it in the hole or at least close enough for an easy two-putt. So your attention should be devoted to the line and speed, not putting mechanics. If your intention were to improve your stroke, that's a case when your attention should be on mechanics. Remember, always match your attention to your intention.
SEAN FOLEY, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, works at the Core Golf Junior Academy, outside Orlando.