I talk about chipping to lower my score. Next to putting, I chip more than any other shot during my game. I thought that I had everything figured out and even offered some tips from my experience. I thought that I had everything covered until I came across a video that connected aiming to my chipping ball position. I might have thought about it and unconsciously adjust my aim accordingly, but I was surprised that I never talked about how my technique could affect my aim while chipping.
I talked about my visual cues and how I set up my club depending on where the ball was situated in my stance. You can read more about my visual cues at this article. I also created a infographic:
After all this information, I stumbled across a video that will add to my basic information that focuses strictly on aim and ball position. It makes perfect sense to me now and I will be cognizant of my oversight moving forward. In case you are interested:
My chipping game continues to be a work in progress. It is part of my golf journey and something that I need to continue to improve. I am pleasantly surprised that I found the above video and will practice this in my garage in the new year.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Aiming, Chipping and Ball Position: Are They Connected?”
I find your graphic and that video a little more simplistic than I see the issues around chipping and pitching. In my view, the subject is more complex than your graphic or that video indicate or can reliably cover really.
I’ll start with the video. In it, he talks about direction of travel and of course he’s not giving bad information per se. He’s technically correct, but he doesn’t give us the whole story. Direction will change somewhat based on where we have the ball in our stance if nothing else changes. But that’s not how it’s supposed to work or rather how we’re supposed to think about it. We not only can choose the position inside our stance where we play the ball but we can adjust how open or closed our stance is and that will also effect direction and by the same token opening and closing the face of the club will do that to a generally lesser extent too.
Your graphic doesn’t mention it but you show a closed and an open stance as well as a normal stance in those three pictures. That’s a critical component for what direction your ball will take.
Played off the back with a standard stance the ball will generally go right as the video says, but by opening the stance with the same swing, we can change that direction accordingly and see the ball go in the direction we want. Opening and closing the face can help in that regard as well.
As for your infographic I think it’s a bit misleading as well. Your graphic seems to indicate you change ball position more based on distance than anything else and that’s just not how I believe with should think of it. Distance should be controlled with club selection and swing length. Not ball position. Ball position and the corresponding flight profile you get from it will determine flight distance and how much roll out you get and we must be aware of that, but your graphic doesn’t tell that story well enough I don’t think.
For example I may very well want to play a ball off the front of my stance from 50 yards out if I’m short sided and need the ball to land softly with little to no roll out and I may feel it best to play the ball off the back of my stance from 5 feet away if I think getting it on the ground as fast as possible is the best option to get me in the hole or close.
But the one point I take the most exception to is where you point out your weight distribution based on ball position. I would argue that no matter the ball position, you are best off with weight more to the lead side than evenly distributed. And that is especially true with the ball off the back of the stance. Having weight forward then helps keep the chunks at bay. That maxim only adjusts with slope. An uphill or downhill lie will get me opting for a different weight distribution but only then.
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You have unpacked many many years of teaching in one article. Your analysis is right in many areas, but for the beginner golfer it is far too much information for them to absorb. Additionally, and please keep in mind, all my techniques are the world according to Jim. They fit my game and that is really the area in which I focus. I am sure you and I could shoot the same relative scores, but our techniques would be entirely different. It is not good or bad, just the way our games have developed. Please keep bringing your thoughts because it helps the readers when they want to delve deeper into the topic.
I feel like it took me longer to write than it would have taken someone like Pete Cowen to teach. And he wouldn’t have left so much out to be fair to him. lol
With the subject being real beginners I’d likely first have them consider a chipper. Wilson sells one for like 39 bucks I think and a beginner is going to have an easier time hitting one of those to chip with than any wedge on the market I would venture.
But if they really want to start of with ‘real’ wedges, I’d suggest learning to just brush the ground as your first step. And while doing that I’d suggest to stick with keeping the ball in the center at first. Less complication brings more consistent results. You’ll progress faster.
Other than that, I think it’s important to have a wedge that is forgiving as well. You aren’t going to be happy chipping with a wedge that only has 5 degrees of bounce. You don’t have to understand what bounce it, you just have to remember when you buy one that a wedge with 12-14 degrees of bounce is going to bring you more forgiveness overall. I have a lob wedge with just 5 degrees of bounce and I can tell you right now, I use it very sparingly and only when I know the conditions are optimal for it. It is anything but forgiving at any other time. But that’s a topic for the well versed.
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There are definitely many approaches to learning. Personally, I have seen a chipper and would not use it. This does not mean it does not have any value, just not for me. Wedges and bounce is a tough subject. I use 8° bounce on all my wedges. It works for my game, but can be a bit challenging in wet conditions. Regardless, it is a journey that all golfers must take and it is not something that can be traveled fast.