Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Chipping Practice

Today, we are going to create a chipping practice that addresses good mechanics, choosing a landing area and club, distance control, routine and execution.

Mechanics:
The focus for mechanics is to think of the club as your chipping tool.  You need to swing the entire club, grip to club head.  By doing that, you will control the shaft lean and angle of attack.  If you set up properly and create the shaft lean you want at impact, your goal will then be to swing the club and replicate that shaft lean when you hit the ball.  If the handle of the club stops or slows down, the club head will continue, but your shaft will tilt backwards and you will add loft to the club head.  This will cause shots that go too high and will feel scooped.  If you have too much tension in your arms and lose your center as your club moves through the shot, you will take loft off of the shot and hit it too low or thin.  Remember to set up as you want to hit the shot and keep your elbows soft and your wrists firm. 

The other mechanical focus needed is to set up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
 In other words, your body should make a straight line from the ground up.  Your knees shouldn't soften at any time during a chip and disrupt the line.  Nor should your hip be in front of your body and your head back.  Your nose will determine your center and your body should be aligned.  This set up will allow the club to swing in a steeper motion and impact should be a downward blow. 

When you are focusing on set up and shaft lean, don't worry too much about your results.  Get your feedback from how well you set up and when finished with the shot, making sure your elbows are close, hands are still firm and weight is stable and centered over left femur.


Choosing Club
I want you to have two options for each shot you face and be able to hit equally good shots with each shot.  When you get great at this, move to having three options for each shot.  Choosing the landing area will often dictate the shot you need to hit, but if you can see options, you will increase your creativity and ability to create what you need at any time.  Carry all four wedges and 3 balls.  Pick a target, then a landing area and then a club.  Execute the shot.  Watch carefully if your ball lands where you want it to and if it bounces, checks and rolls out as you pictured.  Now from the same spot, pick a different club and visualize a different shot.  You can change trajectory with set up, you can change the amount of check with the angle of attack and firmness of your hands, you can simply choose a different landing spot and let that be the only difference.  With the third ball, hit the shot you liked the best.  Keep an open mind and look at results instead of comfort level with the shots.  As you do this drill, you may switch out wedges to choose other clubs.  The more clubs you get in the mix, the better it will be.  Creativity, visualization and execution will all be improved with this practice time.

Distance Control
Find a fairly flat spot to chip from and land onto.  Lay four or five clubs on the ground in a ladder.  Your goal is to land a ball in each space in the ladder.  Make sure you can do it with a lot of clubs in your bag.  This will force you to change both trajectory and speed of the swing.  Once you get the hang of the drill, your goal should be to use each of your four wedges and land one ball with one shot in each space.  Successfully, that would be 12/12 with four clubs on the ground and four wedges.

When you get great at this, now start forcing different trajectories by placing your golf bag on the ground in front of you and hitting over it.  Change the slope you are on to learn how to hit from uphills, downhills and sidehills.  You can also change the distance away from the green.  When you can successfully control your trajectory, you will be able to hit any chip shot you want.



Routine and Execution
Now for the bread and butter!  Your mechanics are solid, your visualization and creativity are focused and you can hit the ball any height or distance you want.  The only thing left is doing it when faced with one shot.  The best way to practice this if you aren't on the golf course is to force a situation.  Take one ball, four clubs including a putter, drop the ball and get it up and down.  Make yourself make five in a row.  When that seems easy, go to ten.  If that gets easy, give yourself challenging lies, as though you've short sided yourself.  End every chipping practice with at least five in a row.  Make sure you go through your routine.

Routine
1.  Pick a landing area.
2.  See the shot and pick the club that matches your visualization.
3.  Get your self aligned and set up solidly.
4.  Focus on the spot you want to land it and see the shot in your mind all the way to the hole.
5.  If you need a practice swing to feel the rhythm or the shot, go ahead and take it.
6.  Hit the shot.

Good luck and have some fun with these chipping drills.  They should cover all areas it takes to be a great chipper.  Let me know how they work and if you need something different.


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