Still Learning How To Improve My Golf Game

Virtually every round of golf I play I realize how little I know about golf. There is always something that requires my attention in order to improve my score. And my round yesterday was no different. Every approach shot with my wedges went left. I did not have this problem for a long time, but alas it reared its ugly head again. My distance was fine, but I missed every green left. I am not sure why but I have a good idea. My approach leads me to ask the following: do you self-analyze your golf swing during your game?

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Controlling The Distance With Your Wedges

Many golfers, including myself, refer to our wedges as the scoring clubs. It is with these short irons that will determine if we have a 3 foot or 30 foot putt. I spend a great deal of time practicing with my wedges and in the past decided to replace my 5 wood with a 60° wedge. It was a smart move for my game and it has helped me slowly lower my handicap. Understanding that wedges are critical to lower shooting lower golf scores, I am often asked about controlling my distance with each wedge. Well, my method is simple and it follows the guidance of Annika Sörenstam.

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3-6-9 Chipping Drill

Today was practice day.  I stole 30 minutes to quickly practice my chipping. As many of you know, I use the 3-6-9 chipping drill to sharpen my skills and focus my practice time. I always practice with the intent of learning or honing something. Today was no different.

Lately, my chipping is chunky! For some reason, my club is striking the round about an inch behind the ball. This failure to execute results in my wedge pouncing off the ground (when dry) or digging in (when wet). Regardless, the ball comes up extremely short and as a result it is costing me unwanted strokes. So, today’s practice round was time devoted to figuring out why.

After about six balls, the answer was obvious; my lower body was too active, which resulted in my flexing my knees during short chips. This in-turn, caused my club to hit the ground behind the ball and as a result….chunk!

Recognizing this error, I immediately adjust my chipping style and poof….problem fixed. After about 5 minutes, I was seeing definite improvement in my chipping.

In the first image, I was 25 yards from the flag using my 52 degree wedge. The result was very good with 4 out of 6 balls were within 6 feet and 3 of those were within 3 feet. (the stars are where the tees are)

52 Degree Chips

The second image, I was 25 yards from the flag using my 60 degree wedge. The result was okay with 2 out of 6 balls were within 6 feet and 1 of those were within 3 feet.  All balls were within 9 feet.

56 Degree Chips

I found that the 52 degree wedge was easier to control because of the lower ball flight. It had less bounce on the green and released further and consistently. With the 60 degree wedge, I could not control the direction of the bounce when the ball hit the green. Additionally, I had to be more aggressive hitting the ball to reach the hole which made it more difficult to control.

Additionally, I realized four other things that I will take forward and practice the next time I hit the links.  They are:

  • Keep more weight on my front foot;
  • Keep my hands ahead of the ball on contact;
  • Keep my right elbow (trail elbow) tucked near my side; and
  • Most importantly for me – quiet lower body when chipping within 25 yards.

The 3-6-9 chipping drill enable me go gauge my success immediately on every chip. This made adjusting very easy. Ultimately, my goal is to be within 3 feet every time or at least within 6 feet. These are make-able putts more often than not.

Practice chipping, or any golf skill for that matter, is the practical aspect of playing golf. Research is great, watching videos is fine and listening to the experts important; however if we do not take the theoretical aspects of golf and covert it to the practical aspects then we are really limiting our potential to lower our scores! In case you are wondering, my GAF was high today!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!