The three important elements in the game of golf: All the low handicap golfers practise their shot game to develop that soft hands touch, that gives them the ability to land the ball close to the flag every time.
1 Chipping (Bump and run)
The chip shot is needed when you are just off the green, perhaps 10 to 12 feet from the putting surface. Your objective: Learn how to control the height and speed of the ball around the green.
You will note in previous lessons we have said that the bump and run shot is the safe percentage shot.
The bump and run (chip and run) shot is a low running shot played with a 7-iron, a 9-iron or a sand wedge. The lower the loft of the club (E.G The higher the number on the club) the more roll will be produced.
As you set up the shot, stand with the ball aligned with your back foot while holding the club vertically and gripping with your hands forward of the ball.
Then, control the swing with the arms only, using minimal hand action and no body turn.
Recap from previous lesson: The short game MUST be practised, the practice must be done with the right technique, so we are going over this again. In more detail:
Bump and run is a low risk shot, but you still need to practice in order to develop the touch and feel that is required to play the shot with confidence.
The basic premise is simple: It is a putting stoke with an iron.
Philosophy: Select a club with sufficient loft to carry the ball over the rough on to the green with momentum and roll to reach the hole taking into account all of the contours on the green in the same way you would for a long putt ,
The more rough grass there is, the more loft you are going to need. Some examples:
Note: In golf you will hear the commentators and the caddies referring to distance in paces, rule of thumb each pace is 3 feet.
If the flag is 18 paces from the edge of the green and the rough is three paces, take your five iron, take it back like a long putting stroke —in line with your target: That is the area on the green where you intend to land the ball, which for this shot would be 6 paces onto the green, with the correct weighted shot the ball will roll the remaining 12 paces to the hole – and IN.
The other end of the scale: if there were 18 paces from the flag to the edge of the green, and 12 paces of rough then you would use your eight iron (more loft to clear the extra rough grass).
Take the club back in line with the target, eyes fixed on the ball, do not look up, hit through the ball in line with the target, which for this shot is 12 paces onto the green, the ball will land and roll up gently into the hole.
You need to practice using the same basic principles with each club, from 4 iron to 9 iron,
It is not magic; it does still take a lot of practice to roll the ball up close or into the cup.
But the short game is the key to a lower handicap and playing good golf.
It is important to make up your mind about the shot required: NO negative thoughts, take the correct stance, one last look at the target area, head down and play the shot. Think positively — “it’s going in the hole”.
Standard chips and pitches: Still the way pro golfers prefer to play their shots onto the green, because they have the necessary feel and touch: Plus the fact is that it is hard enough learning to play with one club, so why try to learn how to play with 5 different clubs
We are now talking pitching wedge: Not easy to follow, but these are great tips. If you stand in front of a mirror and study /read what we are saying then practice till you can remember, then your short game will improve and you will be amazed at how many shots you will save. Plus it is a great feeling when you chip in and make a great up and downer.
Club face square, shoulders square
Feet & hips open (Aiming left)
THE SHORTER THE SHOT: The narrower the stance
The more ‘open’ the feet and hips aim (open means move your left foot back)
The more the weight favours your front foot the more the shaft leans forward
(Which means that at address the hands and shaft are ahead of the ball and stay ahead through the shot)
The more you move the ball back in your stance
The lower down the grip you hold the club
THE LONGER THE SHOT: The wider the stance
The less ‘open’ the feet & hips aim
The more the weight ratio becomes even
The less the shaft leans forward
The more centrally the ball is positioned
The higher up the grip you hold the club
Some chipping drills:
Using your chipping stance, toss some balls underarm toward your landing spot to get the feel of the swing pace with your body.
Place a 6-inch ruler or stick under your watch band and into your glove to create the sensation of a firm left wrist (for right-handed golfers).
Hit balls with your feet together. This helps create the feeling of using the arms and shoulders to hit the shot. Also, with the feet together, your lower body and knees will not move except on the follow-through.
Place two clubs on the ground parallel to each other with the target in the middle. This helps with the alignment, set-up and creates lines to take the club straight back and through.
When is it a chip and when is a pitch?
The difference between a chip and a pitch shot is the chip is around the green while the pitch shot is used to create loft from around the green when you need the ball to travel over bunkers, mounds, tall grass or water hazards. This shot can be played from distances of up to 40 yards and is played with a sand wedge or lob wedge. Proper technique for this shot includes:
Address the ball with it forward in your stance (opposite your left heel for a right-handed player) with your grip even with the ball (not forward pressed or behind the ball).
Swing with your arms while turning the body slightly and setting or cocking the left wrist on the back-swing. Back-swing length and arm speed through impact controls the distance the ball flies.
If you can, visualize throwing a soft ball underarm for a child to catch.
This style of release will produce a high shot with very little roll, and should feel as if your arms have just “floated” through the ball with hardly any resistance. Feel the club head pass the grip as you go through impact.
You need to print these instructions, and go to the golf club where they have a practice green. Concentrate on learning the correct technique and practice. Even with a practice session, golf is a mind game – you must have the right mind set, once you start to see results you will be keen to practice and realize the importance of practice.
Then take practice rounds, and make your main objective to stay in the zone, concentrate on every aspect of your game, which includes course management, you must be aware of every thing all the hazards, wind strength, the speed of the greens.
You are now not just playing for the green, you are playing to a precise target area, soon you will be into the more advanced level of golf when you may choose to land the ball behind the flag and spin it back to the hole.
If the green is flat then by all means aim for the flag, if the green has contours that run away from the hole then you need to select a safe target area and leave yourself a simple uphill putt.
Most sports like tennis depend on fast reactions and anticipation, with golf you do have time to consider the best shot, and have time to ensure that everything is set up correctly to make that shot. The secret is to train your body and mind to do things that may be completely different to what your mind would instantly tell you to do. (The prime example: to hit a ball a long way means you hit as hard and fast as you can.) By now you should have trained your muscle memory that balance, tempo, timing, rhythm, not force, are the keys to a long straight drive.
The other thing that is difficult we are asking in one breath that you stay in the zone and concentrate, yes concentrate but when you are actually ready to play the shot you need to have NO tension in your arms, you need a nice natural swing.
In summary for every shot you play you MUST first know exactly the shot you are going to play, be positive, know the correct club, and set up for that particular shot.
Putting: Long and Short –
Stand feeling comfortable. Keep your lower body perfectly still – NO leg movement.
Check the line and contours of the green. To prevent misalignment study the green very carefully. Your brain now has many calculations to consider – is the putt uphill or downhill, will it turn from the right or from the left, depending on the contours of the green at what point will it start to turn, if it turns from right to left — then just how far right must I aim to ensure the ball drops in the hole.
Also consider the distance, length –amount of weight played is often more important than the correct line- you never want to three putt. On a long putt imagine a big bowl is the hole and you are aiming to get it in the bowl. That way you will either get it in the hole or very close, at worst leaving yourself a tap-in putt.
On the green you are permitted to mark your ball, this gives you the opportunity to pick up and clean your ball and when your replace your ball you should then line up the logo on the ball with the target area on the green.
On short putts do not ground the putter head. Ensure your clubface is square to the target, the target is not always the hole it is a point on the green where the ball will start to turn, or run away downhill.
PUTTING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT element in the game of golf – you need to average TWO putts on every green, if you are three putting then you will lose every game.
Try to get your head and eyes directly over the ball and keep your head and body perfectly still, there should be NO movement in the legs.
Keep your back-swing smooth. Rock the shoulders, arms moving in a pendulum-like motion.
Take the putter back only a short distance and then accelerate towards the ball, keeping the putter blade going through smooth and square in line with the target. DO NOT LIFT your head until the ball is on its way, on short putts you should hear the ball drop in the hole, not see it.
Practice your putting every chance you get, make your practice a challenging game, place six balls in a circle 2 yards away from the hole and putt each one in turn. You can not go on to the next stage until you putt every ball in succession. Next place one ball two paces from the hole and another ball every two paces from the first ball, putt the first ball then the second till all six are in the hole, this will implant the correct weight needed related to the number of paces the ball is from the hole
Long putts: On a long putt hold the putter gently. It helps to point the logo on the ball in line with the hole or direction of play.
On long putts you can break the wrists on the back-swing, also on the follow-through, this should give more feel.
Ball position: opposite left instep, will ensure you brush the ball with a rising blow, which will result in the ball spinning head over toe which help it stay on line.
Practice for long putts: To develop a feel for the right weight needed, to ensure the ball travels the correct distance; this takes a lot of practice.
To train your mind you need to practice. With the ball a set distance from the hole.
To do this, on a flat green place a row of balls starting with one pace from the hole – then a ball every pace back to 15 paces.
Starting with the ball that is closest to the hole, putt each ball in turn.
Then when you play think in terms of how many paces the ball is from the hole.
In your mind add one pace for up hill; – take one pace off for down hill. Practice long putts with just your right hand, this will give you the feeling of the rolling ball.
You could also try to putt with your eyes closed. This will enhance your senses and help you develop the touch and feel required to judge just how hard you need to stroke the ball for varying distances to the hole.
Putting: Speed will take the turn out of the putt, you need to be confident of your line, sure that you can place the ball dead centre of the hole, then you can putt with pace. Most players elect to play a slow ball and judge the amount of turn required. Practice both methods and once you decide which method gives you the best average, always play that way.
Practice PUTTING as often as you can, certainly in preference to hitting ball after ball on the range.
Putting is the most important element in golf. If you have a good short game and can putt, combined with good course management, you can shoot in the mid eighties. You can take your game to another level.
To get the ball close on long putts, speed is the secret even more important than direction. Develop a good feel and touch, work hard on the weight and speed so you can control the distance on all your long putts. Think big bowl: you must get the ball inside the big bowl, if it drops in the hole then that a bonus. But never end up taking three putts – that is giving shots away.
(We say never up never in) on a level green a perfectly weighted putt, if it does not drop in the cup, should run on past by 12 to 15 inches; then you know you had the correct speed.
Be prepared (if you have not read the previous lesson then you should). We advise getting to the course well ahead of your tee time. Then you can warm up and spend time hitting long putts on the putting green to learn the speed, this will save you shots when you play the course. When you take practice strokes for long putts, it is part of the mind game – it is a rehearsal to prepare you for a competitive 18 holes. It is also good to finish your putting practice with a few comparatively easy putts from three or four feet. (Strange but true, to hear the ball dropping into cup gives you an in built confidence which you carry through to your game.)
When you stand over a putt you must never have negative thoughts, you must be certain in your mind that the line and target area you have selected are correct, relax (no tension in those arms), legs perfectly still. Take one last look, visualize the line and the distance the ball is going to travel, then head and eyes directly over the ball, you are going to rock your shoulders and create the tick tock – pendulum-like movement
Hope you enjoyed this lesson and that it improves your game.
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