Breaking 100

November 2007

If you're trying to break 100, I can't stress enough the importance of hitting crisp, accurate chip shots. It's the ultimate stroke saver. During the Hawaiian Open in 1981, I was practicing chip shots with Hubert Green, who I think is the best chipper in the history of the game. Hubert took me to the cleaners that afternoon, but he also gave me one of the best chipping tips I ever received.

Hubert suggested I practice with a more lofted club for chips, such as a sand wedge instead of the traditional 8- or 9-iron I had been using. With the higher-lofted club, I could play the ball farther back in my stance and still get it airborne enough. This new ball position created an even more pronounced forward lean of the shaft at address and an even more downward angle of attack through impact -- both crucial to hitting crisp chips.

As he explained to me, increasing the angle of descent into the ball allowed for greater consistency in chipping from all kinds of different lies because I would strike the ball higher on the clubface. I'm sure this tip can help you, too.

Try chipping cross-handed

Another way to hit solid chip shots is to focus on the left wrist's position through impact. PGA Tour pro Chris Couch chips cross-handed, with his left hand gripping the club lower than his right hand.

The reason he does this is to help ensure the left wrist remains flat through impact. Chris even chipped in on the final hole to win the 2006 Zurich Classic of New Orleans using this technique.

Most high-handicap players tend to scoop a chip into the air. The left wrist cups, and the right wrist bows. They actually should be in the opposite position through impact.

Don't fear the ground

I went to the range the other day with a friend, and I began taking practice swings, complete with divots. "What are you doing?" my friend asked. "I want to take a divot on my real swing, don't I? So, why wouldn't I take one with my practice swing?" I told him.You should, too.

To get used to hitting down through the ball, rehearse your real swing by taking a divot -- in front of an imaginary ball -- with your practice swing. Don't forget to replace the divot.

Use a wall to hit solid putts

In many ways, the flat left wrist at impact qualifies as golf's master dynamic -- even when putting. Here's a little exercise that will let you sense what a flat left wrist at impact feels like.

Take the back of your left hand and press it flush against a wall. Notice how the back of the hand and forearm create a straight line? Now move your arm from the wall and take your normal putting grip, keeping this straight line with your left arm, the back of your left wrist and the puttershaft. Extend your arm directly in front of you so the shaft is parallel to the ground, and you'll see the straight-line configuration.

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