Lesson TeeMarch 20, 2014

Get This Up And Down

When the bellied wedge is safer than a standard chip

It's frustrating when you hit a good approach shot only to see it trickle just off the green and half-bury in the rough. Don't let this lie get you down. You can still save par—even hole it out—if you use a specialty shot called the "bellied wedge." It's a great option when playing Southern courses where the wiry Bermuda grass can grab the clubhead if you use the traditional chipping technique.

Instead, take your sand wedge, choke down on the grip and set up to the ball like you're going to putt it. You can even use your putting grip. Let your body weight favor your left foot, and hover the clubhead so the leading edge is in line with the center of the ball (right).

Now make a smooth stroke, trying to strike the ball's equator with the club's leading edge. Stop the swing shortly after impact or risk double-hitting it because the ball comes off slower than on a standard chip. When you make this pop stroke, you don't put much backspin on the ball, so play for it to roll out.

SWING THOUGHT

Unless you've got great touch or a lot of time to practice, I wouldn't recommend chipping with a lot of wrist action. An easier technique is to keep your hands passive and let your arms and body control the motion. Notice how your arms and chest form a triangle when you grip the club. Your goal is to move that triangle back and through, catching the ball in the middle.

David Leadbetter, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, operates 26 golf academies worldwide.