Mexico Open at Vidanta

Vidanta Vallarta

Short Game

How to stop the chip flip

By Rick Smith Photos by Dom Furore
September 09, 2007

Don't touch: To get a feel for a good chip, don't let the butt end hit your body.

Too many amateurs hit poor chips and pitches, but don't beat yourself up if you're one of them. The problem is that the shot is counterintuitive. It seems logical that to get the ball airborne but hit it only a short distance -- as is usually required with a greenside shot -- you'd have to make a short stroke with the arms only and then help the ball in the air with a flick of the wrists. But to hit this shot properly, the opposite is true.

The swing needs to be fairly long, and the wrists quiet, then the arms swing down as the body rotates toward the target. Honing this technique can take some time, especially when fighting the instinct to help the ball up with a wristy swing. But this drill will help speed up the learning process.

Grip an iron about midshaft so the butt end is pointing up and just outside your lead hip. As you take the club back, hinge your wrists slightly so the butt end of the shaft doesn't hit your side (above, left). Now start your downswing by rotating your body toward the target, maintaining the wrist hinge. The goal is to avoid having the butt end of the club touch your body (above, right) during the swing. If the club hits your side, you either let your wrists break down or you failed to make a body turn.

You can try this drill with all sorts of things, including a pool cue or a broom handle. It's the fastest way I know to learn how to hit good short shots.

*Ranked No. 8 by his peers among Golf Digest's 50 Greatest Teachers, Rick Smith is based at the Treetops Resort near Gaylord, Mich., and Tiburón in Naples, Fla. *