Short GameApril 2, 2019

5 quick tips to conquering the downhill chip

Man flexes his knees while swinging at golf ball.
Adam Slama/Courtesy of Ted Baker

Usually the area around a green is level with or lower than the putting surface. But sometimes you'll find your ball on a mound near the green, leaving you with a downhill chip. Sure, it was a lucky break that the hill kept your ball within chipping distance. But now what? This atypical lie presents a challenge for a lot of golfers, because it drastically reduces the chance of popping the ball up and landing it softly on the green—especially if you have a tendency to try to help the ball in the air with a scooping, wristy action. You need to make some adjustments to pull off this shot.

“Keep your knee flex if you want to pop the ball up.”

First, you can't afford to make contact with the ground behind the ball, or you'll blade it across the green. So play the ball slightly back of center in your stance. Another thing that will help you make ball-first contact is to lean the handle a little toward the green, so your hands are closer to the flag than the clubhead. I also recommend gripping down on the club—your most lofted wedge—for more control.

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Next, the way you swing is important, too. Maintain flex in your knees throughout the swing (above). Remember to keep the shaft leaning forward through impact and abbreviate the follow-through. A time-honored swing thought for this shot is to swing down the slope with the clubhead.

All of this might seem like a lot to remember, so boil it down like this: Ball back, hands ahead, and swing down the slope. Do that, and you'll get just enough loft on the ball to stop it near the hole. — with Ron Kaspriske

ANALOG INSTRUCTION IN A DIGITAL WORLD

Science has its strongest presence ever in golf instruction. Though I believe it's important for teachers to take advantage of technology and use it to make golfers better, students shouldn't have to feel overwhelmed by all this new data. That was the inspiration for my video series for Golf Digest Schools called “The David Leadbetter Essentials.” This six-part series breaks down the components of an efficient swing into easy-to-understand instructions. You won't need a high-speed camera, launch monitor or degree in biomechanics to consistently hit good shots. Just follow my advice, and you'll be on your way to better golf. You can see it at Golf Digest Schools—golfdigest.com/allaccess.

DAVID LEADBETTER is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.