Short-Game Saver: Master the straight-arm chip to gain control around the green
Growing up at Oak Tree National in Oklahoma, I got to play a lot with Scott Verplank, and I modeled my short game after his. It’s a pretty good one to copy. His short game was unreal for two decades on the PGA Tour. One shot he taught me that I use a lot creates a ton of spin. It’s especially good when I’ve got to hit one over a bunker and stop it by a tight pin. I know a lot of golfers shy away from this shot because it seems hard, but this technique makes it easy
What you want to do is set up slightly open to your target, the ball positioned just ahead of middle in your stance, and open the face of your lob wedge before you grip it. Then, when you take the club back, sense that the clubface is moving straight down the target line. It’s going to feel weird, but you want to keep the face open and take it back with virtually no set to your wrists. You’ll have to experiment with how far you take the club back, but the length of the backswing is key to controlling the distance.
When you start down, the goal is to create a lot of speed through the ball. But you have to be careful not to start down too quick. You want the speed to happen like a snap of your fingers right at impact. The club doesn’t have to keep moving much after that. If you keep the face open and your wrists quiet, the bounce of the wedge will glide through the grass and pop the ball up with a lot of spin. After two or three bounces, the ball should stop dead. The best thing is that you can use this technique around the green or up to 70, 80, even 90 yards out.
The key is, don’t be afraid to accelerate the clubhead—especially on the shorter chips. —WITH RON KASPRISKE
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