"When the clubhead out-races the hands, it's Chunk City."
A lot of courses these days are mowing greenside areas super snug. So you're seeing more and more pool-table lies on chips and pitches. It's easy to hit behind the ball—the classic chunk.
The problem often stems from a poor setup, with your weight on your back foot and spine leaning away from the target. Poor tempo—like slow going back and fast coming down—is another common cause of the short-game chunk. Oh, and tight wrists can lead to a flipping action at the ball, where the clubhead out-races the hands and the club bottoms out before you get to impact. OK, enough bad stuff—here's how you can eliminate the chunk.
First, simulate a great impact position in your setup, with your upper body leaning toward the target, weight forward, sternum in line with the ball. Then, as you swing back, keep the clubface square or slightly open—this will help you slide the clubhead through impact. Try to return the shaft at impact to its address position by turning your hips toward the target. Finally, let your eyes track the ball as you swing through. Staring down rigidly is a chunk waiting to happen.
HEY, IT'S GOOD TO BE SHALLOW
It's helpful to have an image that matches your intended technique. Consider this for greenside shots: An Olympic swimmer enters the water at a shallow angle and stays just below the surface as long as possible before starting to swim. Think of your clubhead as the swimmer, so after impact it slides along the grass, staying low to the ground. That will prevent a deep dig—or the equally unhelpful scoop at impact.
—Joe Parent, Ph.D., author of Zen Golf
TIGER'S WEEK OF FLUB-A-DUB-DUB
At the Hero World Challenge in December, Tiger Woods chunked several chips and pitches. The most embarrassing came in the first round: Facing an uphill pitch, he hit an inch behind the ball, which rolled back almost to his feet. Then, he chunked the next shot about three feet. Tiger attributed the miscues to a wrist movement he's learning from his new teacher, Chris Como. Maybe we'll wait and see before we copy that one.
Jim McLean is based at Trump National Doral in Miami.