lesson teeDecember 21, 2010

Develop A Feel For Chipping

Learn distance control with various clubs

Spot On: Drill: Chip to a landing spot with different clubs, and note how far each one rolls out.

Spot On: Drill: Chip to a landing spot with different clubs, and note how far each one rolls out.

An important part of chipping is understanding how far the ball carries and rolls with different clubs. I use the spot method to work on my control. Here's a drill:

At the practice green, I try to land the ball on a spot on the putting surface with three different clubs, then learn how far the ball rolls with each one. I start with a sand wedge, then go to a pitching wedge and finally to an 8-iron. You could pick other clubs, but establish a spot where you're trying to land the ball on the fly and see how it rolls out.

You can put down anything visible to mark the spot. I have to be lucky to hit the target, but I just want to land the ball in that general area so I can observe the roll.

I practice this drill until I get several balls to finish close together with each club. Obviously, the ball comes out with a lower trajectory off the 8-iron and rolls farther after it lands. Downhill, it rolls farther still.

Try uphill shots, sidehill shots -- try them all. If you learn how to chip to a specific spot, you'll develop a consistent feel for distance. And you'll be a better chipper.

TOM WATSON,* a Golf Digest Playing Editor, is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.*


More thoughts from Tom: Over the years golfers have wondered how to define the difference between a chip shot and a pitch shot. Is it the trajectory of the shot or how far it rolls after landing? Does it depend on the club used to hit it? Not to be flip, but to me a chip shot is simply a short pitch, and a pitch shot is a long chip.