*Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the game of a recent tour winner and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. He has seen thousands of swings and has helped golfers of all abilities, from rank beginners to tour players. This week, Kevin takes a look at the chipping style of Justin Rose, who won the BMW Championship this past weekend.
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Kevin Hinton: Justin Rose secured his win at the BMW Championship with a clutch chip-in on the 17th hole in Sunday's final round. In the video below, Justin talks about imagining how tossing a ball can lead to visualizing the proper trajectory and landing spot. I will take you through some other keys to quality chipping.
To be a proficient chipper, you must be able to do three things: (1) Produce consistently solid contact, (2) hit the ball the proper distance, and (3) control the direction. Those are the same keys required to be a good pitcher or wedge player. Because in chipping we are looking to produce a shot that spends less time in the air and more time on the ground (the opposite of pitching), we set up differently and vary our club selection. But many of the basic fundamentals are the same.
The first key to producing solid contact is setting up properly. Here are the basics of the address position:
--Stand closer and taller.
--Position the ball in the back half of your stance.
--Lean your weight and the shaft toward the target (for better players, this can be easily overdone...your clue is if the ball flies too low and the club often digs into the turf).
In the swing, your body and the club play important roles. The job of your body is to stay passive in the backswing, then pivot in the downswing. Allowing your hips and chest to open is essential to creating good contact. Doing nothing with your body in the downswing will likely
lead to overactive hand action through impact. As for the club's role, if you've set up properly your arms and the shaft should form the letter "Y." Essentially, all you need to do is maintain that "Y" throughout the swing. This will ensure a slight downward hit at impact, producing ball-first contact.
Distance can be controlled in two ways: changing clubs or changing your swing. A one-club chipper will stick with one club and has the ability to adjust the swing based on the length of the chip. Short chips require a smaller and slower motion, longer chips require a bigger stroke with more speed. You cannot simply adjust the size of the swing; the pace needs to change as well.
A multi-club chipper tries to establish a constant landing spot on the green, then plugs in the club that roles the correct amount to the pin. This allows for a more constant swing. Hit from a standard chipping setup, and realize that lofts vary by manufacturer. The air-to-ground ratios of a basic chip should be approximately:
SW: 1/2 air...1/2 roll
PW: 1/3 air...2/3 roll
9iron: 1/4 air...3/4 roll
8iron: 1/5 air...4/5 roll
There is no right or wrong method. It is your job to experiment with both and determine which strategy produces the best results.
Directional control is the third element to good chipping. If you've accomplished the first two, you are well on your way. If you have set up properly, your eyes are nearly aligned over your target line. This is one key reason why standing closer to your chips is very helpful. As your eyes get closer to the line of the ball, aiming is much easier. That's why your driver is hardest to aim and your putter the easiest. If you are still struggling with your alignment, try to simplify your setup as much as possible. Square your stance and avoid any unnecessary tilting or angles. I'm not a proponent of an extremely open stance. I don't see the benefit, and it tends to complicate matters. Finally, experiment with picking an intermediate target. Aiming at something closer to you is easier than something far away.
As Justin Rose said in the video, great chipping begins with imagining a landing spot as if you were tossing the ball onto the green. With the proper technique and plenty of practice, you'll pull it off when it really counts!