You already know that the short game is the most neglected piece of your practice routine. And you already know that it is the one thing that can save you lots of strokes.
Chipping is, for some reason, the single most challenging part of golf – for most amateurs. Dealing with different lies, different clubs – and a shorter backswing – all add to the complexity of the stroke. However, the fundamentals of the chipping stroke are no different than those of the full swing.
- You sill need a (slight) weight shift
- You still need a wrist hinge that can be released on your downswing.
Chipping and the idea of SOFTNESS
Chipping is, of all the strokes in golf, the SOFTEST. It mandates SOFT shoulders, SOFT forearms and SOFT wrists. Try and IGNORE any of those SOFT components, and you are headed for trouble. The best chippers also understand this SOFTNESS concept. Why is this important? Because these SOFT shoulders and SOFT forearms – need to be part of your full swing as well ! That’s correct. All too often, our upper body TENSION (forearms, chest, shoulders) is far too high – for the full swing. Somehow, our mind is convinced that we need our upper body to perform a radically different movement for the full swing – compared to the chip. This is erroneous. The movement is identical – hence the starting tension needs to be identical. The chipping stroke is a miniature version of the full golf swing – as any (good) pro will tell you. There are a few SETUP related tweaks – but no tweaks when it comes to the swinging of the arms – or the tension in the arms.
It took me about half a dozen coaches (two of whom were short game masters) to discover this. Most coaches DO NOT seem to emphasize this enough. In fact, they focus solely on the ‘weight on the forward foot’ for chipping. Other than that, they have very little to add to their chipping lesson. Soft hands, soft forearms, soft shoulders – and keeping your wrists CLOSE on the chip (both back and through), is key to getting the FEEL of the chipping stroke. In fact, everything else is fairly secondary to this. The weight on the forward foot is kind of a no-brainer – everyone figures that out. However, HOW to get the weight on the forward foot can be a bit confusing. Do you rotate your hips? Do you lean your upper body towards the target? These are all VALID ways to get your weight forward.
It is actually a gentle hip rotation of the RIGHT hip (towards the target) – so that your right knee kicks in the same direction (towards the target). If this happens, all your weight will automagically appear on your left foot. This is the simplest way I have found of accomplishing the ‘weight on the forward foot’.
Before your round of golf
Again, because of the SOFT shoulders and forearms that are central to the chipping stroke, if you can practice just a few chips prior to your next round, chances are your full swing will also perform better. The worst thing you can do with 10 minutes before a round, is to hit your driver (unless you are working solely on TEMPO –by trying to swing the driver SLOOOOOWWLY).
Chipping turned me from a 20 handicapper to a 12 – in a matter of weeks. It is the quickest and most important way to lower your handicap. More importantly, it acts as a precursor to the full-swing – and can make a dramatic difference to your rhythm and tempo during your next round of golf.