The traditional way to approach the short game has been to open your stance, then push your weight and hands forward.
The benefit of doing it this way is that a steep angle of attack should help you get the clubface on the ball.
The problem is that because of the steep angle of attack, the flight is always low and the ball comes off fast, so crisp chipping and consistent distance control is hard to find.
The club will also have a tendency to dig in through impact. To stop fluffing chips, I’d like to suggest a more neutral set-up position.
Stand square to the target and set the ball in the middle of your stance with your weight split evenly and your hands over the ball.
The angle of attack will automatically be shallower and you’ll notice how the sole of the club brushes the grass through impact without producing much of a divot. The flight and strike will both be softer, allowing you to find more control.
Use your body
One of the benefits of a more neutral set-up is that the stroke itself becomes much more like your full swing.
Crucially, your arms should work with the rotation of your body. I hate seeing players flicking their hands at the ball – this simply kills your control.
Rotate your upper body through to the target and you’ll have a far more efficient movement. As you practise, tee up each ball a very small amount. This will encourage the shallow angle of attack you’re looking for.
One mistake I often see amateurs make when they practise is to search for a perfect lie for every ball they hit.
A far more effective alternative would be to do the opposite. If you ever attend a professional golf tournament, you’ll often see the players giving themselves terrible lies to practise from.
So take a leaf from their book and lightly step on each ball before you hit it. Finding a good strike will be much tougher.
But when you eventually find a clean strike it will teach you a lot about the technique, while also building your confidence no matter what the lie.
Chip off the green
As I write this I can hear the nation’s greenkeepers groaning. However, there’s no need to worry! The whole point of this drill is to not take a divot.
As I’ve already explained, a more neutral set-up will leave you with a shallower angle of attack that allows you to brush the grass without taking a divot.
There’s no better way to groove this than to hit a few chips off the surface of the practice chipping green. Get it right, using the bounce through impact, and you’ll find a good flight and plenty of spin without upsetting the greenkeepers!
High jump drill
As you can see, I’ve balanced the shaft of my 8-iron on two sticks. This drill is designed to test the principles we’ve already outlined.
Take your neutral set-up and rotate your body, brushing the grass through impact. The ball should pop up over the shaft.
If you flick your hands at the ball, it will shoot under the shaft. As you build your confidence, aim to knock the shaft off the sticks. This is the ultimate test of ball flight control.