LOW SHOT: The hands stay well ahead of the clubhead.
HIGH SHOT: The clubhead passes the hands through impact.
When it comes to chipping, good amateurs and tour pros know how to control trajectory and spin. They can hit chips high or low. Average golfers, on the other hand, usually have just one shot.
When you’re faced with a long shot, say to a back hole location, you need a driving chip. Use your gap wedge or pitching wedge, play the ball slightly back of center, and lean your head and chest toward the target. Bring the club back with a slight wrist set, then swing down with your elbows staying stiff through impact and your lead wrist bowed (above, left). The clubhead should stay low to the ground, your hands finishing out and away from your body. The ball will come off low, skip forward, then check up. When you don’t have a lot of green to work with, you need a higher, softer chip. Using your lob or sand wedge, set up with your weight evenly distributed and the ball forward of center in an open stance. Open the clubface to add loft—resist the urge to tilt your spine away from the target. Then just brush the grass with the clubhead, letting it pass your hands, which should stay near your body (above, right). The major technique key here is to keep the elbows soft through impact. The ball will land softly and trickle to the hole.
MISSING GREENS, MAKING PARS
It seems every time you see a PGA Tour player chipping, he nearly holes it. I remember watching Keegan Bradley, who I work with, at Doral last year: He got up and down 21 out of 21 times in the first three rounds. How often do these guys save par on average? According to ShotLink, from inside 10 yards, the top 30 guys this year got up and down 90 to 95 percent of the time. It’s not only about distance out there.
Jim McLean, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is based at Trump National Doral, Miami.