Improve Your Chipping Feel
GM Top 25 Coach Keith Wood offers some advice on ways to improve your chipping feel…
1) Don’t overlook feel
The feel associated with chipping is very important. We talk about technique quite a lot and sometimes tend to overlook the feel aspect of it. Many of the game’s best chippers have fantastic feel, which allows them to play a wonderful variety of creative shots.
But some golfers are guilty of becoming a little bit rigid in their chipping because they think of the movement as simply a rock of the shoulders. That leads to a one-dimensional short game, so it’s vital that we build a feel element into our technique too.
2) Throw and release
A great way to focus on and improve feel is to go back to something you learnt at a very young age – your judgment of distance and ability to look at a target, in this case the flag, and absorb calculations into the brain, which feed down into the hands. The best way to do this is to throw a few golf balls just on to the green and watch as they release towards the target.
You’ll start to see the green very differently. Instead of seeing it in the context of a golf shot, you’ll start to see it as an overall contour, so you’re thinking feel and judgement rather than golf technique, which is a very powerful learning tool.
2) Different clubs
When you then move on to technique itself, don’t get stuck on one particular club– on a simple chip you can pick any club from, say, 6-iron through to your wedges. Lay a couple of alignment sticks down at your earliest point of landing to create a landing box.
Then chip three or four balls with each club getting them to land in the box, and just observe where they release to. Take the flag away for this so you’re not focused on that, and then it’s just land, release; land, release. Take an average of those three or four balls – not just one – to really get a feel for what each club does on landing. This drill can really improve your chipping feel.
3) Free and flowing
A lot of players get into a nice position at address, then suddenly think, ‘rigid’ and lock the arms up, which then takes away the feel element we’ve talked about. Instead of locking your arms rigidly in place, just let them hang naturally.
Let the elbows just list in towards your ribs – there’s no harm in just touching your elbows to your ribs – then keep it really light in the fingers. Yes, chipping is dominated by the shoulders without too much hand and arm play, other than backwards and forwards. But we also want things to flow with a nice rhythm just like they do when you roll a ball, rather than with a rigid, sudden and jerky movement.