June 19, 2007
When the ball is in a tight lie on the fairway, amateurs often try to scoop it off the turf instead of swinging down into the ball. They also are afraid of hitting the ground and taking a divot. To overcome these problems, practice your fairway swing in a bunker. Draw a line in the sand to represent your normal ball position and make swings with a 5-iron—first with the left hand only, then the right, then both hands. Each time the goal is to make contact with the sand on the front side of the line. Make several passes along the line to get a feel for where the club should contact the ground.
Johnson: "It's much easier to control distance on pitches and chips by hitting lower-trajectory shots into the greens. A side benefit of playing it low is that it will help you make solid contact with your full swing, too. The key to hitting this shot: As the hips rotate toward the target, let the back of your left hand pass over the ball before the clubhead makes contact. The hand and body keep turning well past impact. Don't stop."
I use cardboard carpet tubes to help students make crisper contact with their chips and pitches. Place a tube over your right elbow and practice taking the club back. This prevents your elbow from bending and prompts the big muscles in the shoulders to make the stroke.
Once you have a feel for the backswing, switch the carpet tube to your left elbow and hit chips and pitches this way. By preventing your left elbow from bending, the tube helps keep your shoulders moving as one unit and prevents you from trying to scoop the ball.