I am always on the lookout for any tip that will improve my golf score. It is important to open to new ideas in order to fully develop my game. However, I not flighty and will not change unless I am convinced it is for the better. Until recently, I considered my chipping from 25 yards or closer fairly solid. However, actually examining my success of getting up and down from that distance and realize I am not as sharp as I thought. It was time for a change to improve this area of my game.
In a recent article, Chipping for Success in Golf, I talk about using various clubs and techniques to effectively get the ball up and down from around the green. I still believe what I wrote, however something is amiss. On a closer look, I was making two significant errors and fortunately I was able to find the perfect fix.
The first was the heel of my wedge hitting the ground first causing the club face to close slightly. This resulted in hitting everything left. I am not talking a little left, but up to 10 yards on a 25 yard chip. This is completely unacceptable.
My second issue I am fixing is the position of the club face on impact. I am a proponent of using different wedges for different shots. I believe they are in my bag for a reason and should be used. Unfortunately, I somehow lost the consistency of making solid contact on the ball. Sometimes my club face was open, others closed, and even hooded – all unintentional. I am not sure how this happened, but it definitely needed to be fixed.
By addressing my second issue, I was able to start fixing the first issue. I read an older article in Golf Digest about Justin Rose. He suggest that for short chips, the ball should be moved forward and backward in your stance depending on the loft desired. The further back in your stance, the lower the ball flight. This key to this new technique was to ensure the end of the shaft is always pointing at my belly button on set up. By setting up this way, the club face will consistently be in the same position before and during contact. Well, that worked perfectly for my game. I was able to control the ball better, which in turn improved my up and down percentage.
The follow on to that success was my body position. By setting up as recommended by Justin Rose, I realized I was hunched over to far causing the heel of my club to act as a pivot point. The toe of my wedge was off the ground slightly and as a result hitting first on contact. By standing up slightly, the leading edge of my wedges became parallel to the ball. As a result, I stopped pulling the ball left because the the bottom of the club face hit evenly on the ground.
I am still working on this new technique. But, the immediate success has inspired me to pursue this new change and ingrain it in my pre-shot routine. The resulting change does save me about 2 or 3 stokes a round because my misses are closer to the pin. It is important to remain open to new ideas about your golf game and in this case, the results are very positive for my game.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.