Golf is a funny game. The more we want to succeed, the more challenging it becomes. There are many approaches to improving our games, so I have decided to take a proactive approach this year and practice areas I know will offer the most benefit to my goal of being a scratch golfer. These practice sessions are not a result of poor play (although I do make minor adjustments when things are not going well), but in areas that I know I need to strengthen.
Yesterday, I went to my local practice area to work on my short side chipping. As a benchmark, I consider anything under 10 yards to be the short side. My reasoning is that a delicate chip shot (closer than 10 yards) is required at least once a round. It is a shot I need to perfect to make sure my up and down percentage remains high and my scores go low.
Successful short side chipping is rooted in the how far you carry the ball after contact. There are many options, but carrying the ball the proper distance with your selected club is critical to a high up and down percentage.
During my last practice session, I set up the following drill to increase my success chipping from 10 yards or closer. I set up the drill as follows:
- Hitting area was 10 yards from the hole.
- Place a club 18 inches past the hole – parallel to hitting area.
- At 5 yards from the hole, place another club parallel the hitting area.
- At 6 yards from the hole, place the last club parallel to the hitting area.
- The hitting area required 2 yards of carry before the fringe in long grass.
The intent of each chip is to land the ball between the first 2 clubs and watch it release to the hole. With the hitting area only 4 yards away from the first club, selecting the right wedge was very important. I tried my 52, 56, and 60 degree wedges. I hit at least 20 balls with each wedge and it was very easy to determine which wedge best fit this situation:
- The 52 degree wedge was of no value to my game from this distance. If I happen to land my ball between the first 2 clubs, my ball would release far beyond the club behind the hole.
- My 56 degree wedge was better. My success percentage went up considerably. I found it easier to hit the landing area between the clubs and sometimes the release of my ball was better, but not to my satisfaction. Additionally, it was easier to make contact and control the ball’s trajectory out of the longer grass.
- My 60 degree wedge was best. The margin of error was in my favour. I found it easier to control the release distance after hitting the ball between the first 2 clubs. The trajectory was higher, hence the softer landing. I did have a bit of challenge in the longer grass keeping the grass off the club face during contact, but overall my control was better. One point of note, at this time of year due to the rough greens, I was not able to predict which direction the ball would bounce, but later in the year this should not be an issue.
My last 6 shots with my 60 degree wedge were proof enough that my practice plan was working.
Practicing my short side chipping was very valuable. I learned that the landing area was critical to successful chipping. I was able to visualize the entire shot and feel that this is a recipe for success in the future. As I continue to practice, I will easily transfer my growing confidence to the course.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.