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Tagged "Chipping"


How to Chip From Thick Rough Around the Green

So you’ve hit a couple good shots a long par four and you’re just a few yards off the green. You’re thinking easy par until you get to the ball and realize there’s a problem: your ball is sitting at the bottom of five inches of lush bluegrass. With your spirits diminished you proceed to hack the shot 30 feet and past the hole and in your upset mental state, three putt for a double bogey. Welcome to the wonderful world of golf! There is good news; it doesn’t have to be this hard. Shots from thick rough around the greens are difficult but if you use the correct technique they can be manageable. Here are four things you can do to have more success when chipping from thick rough:

Judge the Lie

Not all thick lies are created equal. There are different types of grasses and levels of thicknesses. When judging a lie the things you are looking for are how thick is the grass, how far down in the grass is the ball sitting, and what’s behind the ball. The thicker the grass the more force will be required to extract the ball. A ball sitting at the bottom of the rough will require a steeper swing than a ball sitting up in the rough. If there is a thick clump of grass behind the ball, you’ll have to hit the ball harder than a cleaner lie. A great way to judge the lie is to place your club a few inches behind the ball (not close enough to move the ball). Feel how thick the grass behind the ball is, then take a few practice swings near the ball to feel the resistance of the grass. Once you have a good idea of the lie you can better judge the shot.

Use More Loft

Hitting good chip shots out of thick grass requires clubhead speed and loft. Because of this, using a lower lofted club such as an seven iron doesn’t work very well. A lower lofted club usually results in shots that come out left, too fast, or even don’t come out of the grass at all. If the lie is decent (ie: sitting up in the grass) an eight or nine iron will work. Otherwise stick to a sand wedge or something similar. We will make a few adjustments in the setup and swing that will allow you to hit the ball lower with this club.

Setup for Success

The goal of the swing when chipping from thick rough is to drive the clubhead down and through the grass. In order to do this successfully there a few changes we need to make with the setup. The first change is to open the face. The reason is that the thick rough will slow down the momentum of the clubhead. When that happens the clubface closes making it easy to hit easy to hit the ball low and left. Slightly opening the face accounts for the clubface closing at impact. After opening the clubface make your grip pressure firmer than normal. This will also help prevent the clubface from closing through impact. The last two setup adjustments are to position the golf ball 2-3 inches back of the center of your stance and to put more weight than normal on your front foot (ie: 70%). Both of these things aid in steepening the swing, which helps to drive to golf club down and through the thick grass.

Steepen the Swing

So you’ve judged the lie, picked the correct club, and adjusted your setup. Now it’s time to hit the shot. The thing to remember when chipping from thick rough is that the swing needs to be steep. It has has to come in at an angle so that it hits the least amount of grass possible before hitting the ball. If you “pick” or “scoop” your shots around the green, playing from long grass will be next to impossible without making adjustments. As you start the backswing feel your wrists hinging upwards so the golf club works up and away from you. If your club goes inside or behind you on the backswing, you’re going to catch too much grass on the downswing. Take a few practice swings and get the feel for the wrist hinge and the club working up. Once you’ve got a feel for the backswing you can start to work on the bottom of the swing. At impact you want to feel the clubhead get down in the grass. It’s like a chopping motion with the clubhead working up and then abruptly down. You should feel the bottom of the golf club contacting the ground. If you try to “scoop” this shot you won’t have much success. Lastly there is not much follow through with this shot. Between the golf club hitting the thick grass and the golf club contacting the ground, a lot of the club’s momentum will be lost. You should not try to slow the swing down to shorten the follow through. Just let it happen naturally. The motion of leading with the hands, the grass, and the ground will do this for you. To summarize, when chipping from thick rough you need to: judge the lie, use a club with more loft, setup for a steeper swing, and play the shot with a steep motion down into the grass. If you do this you will have more success and get more shots up and down.

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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Play Better Golf by Hitting Better Chip Shots

  Tell me if this sounds familiar. You hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway and nice approach shot just off the edge of the green. You then proceed to mishit the chip and leave yourself a 10 footer for par that you miss. Meanwhile your buddy hits it in the trees off the tee, scrapes his second shot out, and then gets up and down from 40 yards for par beating you on the hole. Makes you want to pull your hair out right? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. With a few simple adjustments you can start hitting more solid chip shots that end up closer to the hole and give you a better chance to save par. Here are 3 easy ways to improve your chip shots:

Forward at Setup

  To hit a chip shot solid you need to hit the golf ball, then the ground. In order to achieve this you must strike the ball at or before the bottom of the swing. Getting your weight and golf club leaning slightly forward at the setup are excellent ways to improve contact. At the setup feel 60% of your weight on the forward foot. It will feel as though back shoulder is higher than your front shoulder. This sets your swing into a steeper position allowing for a solid hit. Now the key is to keep the weight there during the swing. Next get the shaft leaning slightly toward the target. A good reference point is to have the grip of the club even with the middle of your forward thigh. This along with leaning forward add just enough steepness to allow for a solid hit on the golf ball.

Balance and Tempo

  If you watch a good chipper you’ll see that their backswing and follow through are similar sizes. You see a lot of golfers who struggle with chipping making big backswings with little follow through or the opposite, making a small backswing and over accelerating into the ball. A balanced chip shot swing leads to good tempo and makes it easier to deliver the clubface solidly on the back of the ball. It also reduces the desire to “hit” the ball when chipping. Good chippers make a smooth balanced swing and let the ball get in the way. Make some practice strokes with your chipping club and feel the club moving back and forth in nice balanced and smooth motion. Do this without a ball until you get the feeling then add the golf ball. The goal with the ball is the maintain that same balance and tempo. This will lead to solid shots and better distance control.

Better Cub Selection

  Many golfers struggle to pick the correct club for chip shots. They use too much loft which makes it tougher to make solid contact, brings backspin into play, and makes judging the roll difficult. Or they use too little loft which makes it difficult to land the ball on the green and easy to hit the shot too hard. The goal of a chip shot should be to land the ball just on the green and let it roll to the hole. Rolling a ball provides better distance control than carrying it in the air. The ball should be landed on the green though as it provides the best surface and most consistent bounce. Focus your club selection on the PW, 9, and 8 irons (keep the sand and lob wedges in the bag for shots that require more loft to land the shot on the edge of the green). Using a combination of these 3 clubs for chipping will provide a good balance of height and roll. It will also reduce your choices simplifying the club selection process. So stop throwing away shots around the green. Use the 3 chipping tips the next time you practice or play and you’ll see more up and downs and less frustration with your chip shots.  

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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Improve Your Practice for Golf Chip Shots

  You’ve probably seen this guy on the practice green. He’s practicing his chipping and has 10-20 balls around the same hole. The more balls he hits the more the balls keep piling up. Now on the one hand, it’s good that he is practicing his short game. But on the other, more practical hand, he is not getting as much out of his practice as he should be. Here are 3 things you should be doing when practicing your short game that will make a difference on the golf course:

Pay Attention to Aim

  This should be a given, however most golfers don’t think twice about it when practicing. Aim is important in chipping for this reason: the ball will tend to go where your clubface is aimed. If the clubface is aimed left or right you'll have to make some kind of manipulating move in the swing. When practicing chipping put a club or alignment stick down on the ground. You can then place the ball next to the stick and get a good idea of what square is. Be sure to take the time to align the stick correctly to the target or this will be counterproductive. Hit 3-4 shots with the stick and then move to another shot. By practicing like this you will train your eyes to aim correctly and will find it much easier to take it to the course.

Rotate Around the Green for Different Shots

  On any given golf course you are going to face uphill, downhill, and side hill chip shots from a variety of different lies. A lot of golfers struggle with awkward shots because they’ve never quite seen or practiced a shot like the one they have. Better players have practiced almost all the shots. When you practice chipping think of the practice green as a clock and hit shots from at least 4 different spots on the clock. The more time you have the more locations you should chip from. Grad 4-5 balls and hit shots to different hole locations from the different spots. This way you’ll never hit the same shot twice. Another good thing about moving around the clock are the different grass conditions you may encounter. Hopefully you’re practice green has a few different lengths of grass as this will help you on the golf course.

Focus on Where the Ball Lands

  This is one of the biggest things medium handicap golfers overlook when chipping and pitching. They only focus on the ball and the hole and aren’t as concerned with how it gets there. Good chippers are always focused on where the ball lands. A good way to practice this is by laying a small towel on the green or picking a spot of visible grass. You can then hit shots without aiming for a hole. Your only focus should be flying the ball on the spot. You’ll quickly learn how hard you need to hit a shot to fly it certain distance. Once you become better at this on the practice green it will become easier to do on the golf course. You’ll find yourself picking and hitting your spots more regularly which will result in more up and downs.

It’s Not a Race

  Tiger Woods didn’t become the best player in the world because he hit the most balls. He did it because he practiced more efficient. There are no awards for the player who hits the most shots during a practice session. Basically this means take your time when you practice. Setup to each shot, watch where the balls ends up, pick up your balls, move around the green, and take a few breaks to keep your back fresh. Use these tips when you practice and you’ll see much better results on the golf course.  

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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Want to Stop Chunking Chip Shots? Here’s How

  Does this sound familiar? After 2 good shots a par 5 you’re next to the green and looking good to make birdie. You then proceed to chunk your next shot and make bogey. So frustrating! It’s easy to have your golf game undone by poor shots around the green and in my opinion there is nothing worse than hitting a shot fat. In an effort to eliminate this let’s look at a few reasons you hit behind the ball and how to correct them.

Ball is too far back in your stance

  This is a common issue with middle handicap golfers and it usually arises from a misconception. Watching golf on TV we often hear commentators say that a player is playing a chip shot off their back foot. We then watch the player and it looks like the ball is off their back foot. It seems straightforward but is misleading for 2 reasons: The first is that the camera angle is not always good on TV. If the camera is not positioned directly facing the golfer, you’ll get a skewed perspective of where the ball is positioned. The second and most important reason is this. Imagine a player setup to a chip shot with a square stance and the ball positioned in the middle of his feet. Now imagine that player slightly opening his stance by turning his feet to the left (95% of good players do this). Without moving his body or ball (just the alignment of his feet) the golf ball now appears to be positioned even with his back foot. What happens now is middle handicap golfers take this “back foot” info and play their ball way back in their stance. This results in a very steep swing, the player chopping down on the ball, very low shots, and often times the leading edge hitting the ground before the ball. Even if you do make solid contact you will feel the club dig into the ground. A better way to think about ball position is in relation to your body. Use a reference point such as the zipper or belt buckle. This provides a center point of the body that will not move when you change your foot position. When you setup for a chip shot position the ball even with the zipper or belt buckle. By positioning the golf ball in the center of the body you will make contact slightly on the downswing and the club will be less inclined to dig. This leads to more consistent contact and better control.

Trying to hit down too much

  As golfers we’ve heard it over and over again: you have to hit down on the ball. This phrase on its own is not a bad thing as good chippers and pitchers do hit down on the golf ball. The place where this causes trouble for most golfers is they don’t know exactly what it means or they overdo it. When good golfers hit a chip or pitch shot they feel the bottom of their golf club scrape or thump the ground. You will rarely see a good player take a divot or dig their club into the ground on short shots. However, many middle handicap golfers, in an effort to “hit down” on the ball, dig their club into the ground. When this happens the margin for error is very low. Contact has to be almost perfect. If the leading edge of the club hits just behind the ball it will dig and shot will be chucked. A better way is to feel the bottom of the club thumping the ground. The goal is avoid taking a divot. If you do this and start feeling the ground your margin for error will be much higher. If fact, if you keep the club from digging you can hit slightly behind the ball and still hit a good shot. To recap, if you want to put an end to chunked short shots you have to put an end to digging. Make sure your ball position is centered and stop trying to hit down so much. You’ll see better results around the greens.  

Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.

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Learn to Hit Your Chip Shots Solid from Tight Lies

  There aren’t too many shots in golf that get even the best players a little nervous. Maybe the long bunker shot. Maybe the island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. But the chip shot off of tight grass is one that falls in that category. It doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult but even the slightest mishit can result in disaster. You know the feeling when the ball is sitting down on tight grass. You’re trying to figure out how to get the club under the ball and what usually happens is you dig the club into the ground and chunk the shot, or catch the ball thin and watch it shoot across the green. The issue is that there just isn’t much room for error. With the ball sitting in the rough or even on slightly taller fairway grass, it’s easy to get the ball in the air. When we set the club down behind the ball on tight grass, we’re just not sure what to do. The good news is that it can be done and it’s actually not as tough as you would think. You just need to change the way you approach the shot. Here are some tips to make quick work of tight lies around the greens:

Keep the Club from Digging

  The problem most golfers have with tight lies around the green is that they tend to dig the club into the turf. When the club digs it usually hits behind the ball and leads to a chunked shot. The reason golfers dig the club into the turf comes from years of being told to “hit down on the ball”. You’ve heard it from good players, teachers, and announcers on TV. “The tighter the lie, the more you need to hit down to make solid contact”. However, if you watch a professional golfer hit a chip or pitch from tight grass you won’t see a violent downward strike with a divot being taken. You’ll see a smooth, neutral swing where the club brushes the grass and makes solid contact with the ball. So the key is to keep the club from digging. Let’s look at a few things you can do to keep from digging:

Setup Neutral

  If you adjust the setup to be more neutral, you will reduce the tendency to dig. This means having the ball positioned even with the center of your body. A ball positioned too far back can cause digging. This also means only setting your hands slightly ahead of the golf ball. A lot of golfers want to use a big forward press. This causes the club to dig as well. A neutral setup equals a neutral swing.

Less Wrist Hinge

  This is a big part of avoiding the dig. The more you hinge your wrists on the backswing the steeper the swing becomes. The steeper the swing becomes the more the club wants to dig in the turf. As we know the more the club digs the better chance we have of mishitting the shot. Practice making chip shot swings using less wrist action. Instead of feeling like the hands and wrists move the club away, feel like the shoulder and arms move the club away with the hands being more neutral. The reduced wrist hinge you get from this technique will keep the club from digging.

Use the Bounce

  Bounce is a mystery to a lot of golfers. Basically it’s how much the trailing edge of the sole of a wedge sits below the leading edge. Almost every wedge has some degree of bounce (if yours has zero, get a new wedge). The purpose of the bounce is to keep the club from digging. The problem is when you hit down too much and lean the shaft forward, the bounce is neutralized and the leading edge hit and digs into the ground first. To avoid this take some swings and feel the bottom of the wedge bumping or scraping the turf. If you do it correctly you’ll feel the club hit the turf and then bounce off. If you lean the shaft forward too much you’ll feel the leading wedge dig into the turf. The great thing about using the bounce is that it makes the club more forgiving. You can actually hit behind the golf ball and still hit a good shot because the club doesn’t dig. Shots from tight grass around the greens don’t have to be that tough. If you can keep the club from digging you’ll have much more success.   Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at clay@precisionprogolf.com.
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