Simplify Your Chipping: Use your setup and follow-through to change trajectories
Based on the practice habits of many amateurs I teach, I’m going to guess that you don’t have a ton of time to work on your short game. That’s unfortunate, but let’s not make it an excuse for poor chipping. You can play a number of different shots around the greens simply by making some adjustments to your setup and how you finish the swing. If you stay true to a few fundamentals, these simple alterations go a long way toward performing better around the greens, no matter the scenario. Read on to see how to produce three different chip shots and trajectories with some simple adaptations. —With Ron Kaspriske
STAY NARROW AND COMPACT
Unless you have little green to work with or have to carry the ball over an obstacle, this low runner is your go-to chip. Set up in a narrow stance with your weight forward and the ball between your feet. Also, make sure the buttons on your shirt are aligned slightly ahead of the ball (above, left). Keeping your weight on your lead foot, make a compact backswing and let your body rotation in the through-swing propel the club into the ball and beyond it. Finish in this abbreviated position (above, right).
GET A LITTLE WIDER AND LONGER
The setup and swing for a medium-trajectory chip is going to look and feel a lot like the low runner, but there are some subtle differences. At address, play the ball a little farther forward and stand a touch wider to add loft to the shot (above, left). The backswing will feel a little longer, and the through-swing will be more pronounced as a result of swinging a little more aggressively. Your body rotation will still be the engine that moves the club. Resist the urge to stop your swing just after impact. Keep turning until the shaft of your wedge is roughly parallel to the ground like you see here (above, right).
SET UP BEHIND IT AND RELEASE
Save this high-lofted chip for those rare instances when you have very little green to work with because it’s the toughest to execute. Set up much wider, with the ball off your front foot and your head and shirt buttons behind the ball (below, left). Your weight should still favor your front foot. The length of the through-swing is key to the height of this shot. You’ll need to make a full body rotation as I am here, and let the clubhead release through the ball, passing the hands. Soft wrists help make that happen. Finish with the shaft skyward (below, right), and you’ll produce a shot even a tour pro would admire.
SEAN HOGAN, one of Golf Digest’s Best Teachers in Florida, is at Golfzon Leadbetter Academy HQ in Kissimmee.