“I quit on that one” is a regular term that gets thrown around when we duff a chip for us to then accelerate the club and either duff it further or send it flying across the green at the speed of a gunshot.
Learning to strike the ground correctly is the key to becoming a more consistent chipper. The radius control of the arc the club head travels on is key. Good wedge players around the green produce very good control of club arc height/depth and poor wedge players either struggle to get the wedge on the ground at the right time which will result in thinning the ball or send the wedge too low relative to the ball meaning the wedge digs into the ground before the club gets to the ball.
See the image below which shows different heights of the arc. With a chip shot we just want to bruise the top of the turf. You can see at the bottom of the arc there is a little flat spot so we can afford to hit the ground at least 3 inches before the ball creating a huge margin for error… wow I know. If you can learn to control the depth of arc well you will for sure improve your chipping.
Get the sole of the wedge to "surf the turf" I love the image above which gives a very powerful visual of good ground contact for around the green. You could also check out the first 10 seconds of this slow-motion analysis with a wedge that shows how the club hugs the floor pre and post impact. Golf impacts - Slow motion video If you need to improve this aspect of your game, start by learning to bruise the top of the grass without snagging the wedge into the ground and just play around without a ball until you can do so. When it’s a bit dewy on the ground, I find the visual very powerful when trying to surf the turf. If done correctly you should leave a 5 - 6-inch skid mark of where the sole of the wedge has glided across to the surface. To progress this further, put a tee peg in the ground so it’s just popping its head above the surface and learn to clip the tee peg without damaging the grass. This one is particularly good for those who put their wedge in the ground or duff their chips. Try adding a ball with the above drills with the same intention. ignore the ball, it will all be fine if you create good ground contact. Another great image is to think of the angle of a plane landing and taking off…too steep and it crashes. Too shallow and its hard to get the wheels down.
Technical Check Points
Some good technical checkpoints would be the following: Firstly, have a clear understanding of what the bounce of the club is and the role it plays in helping you interact the club with the ground. Then for set up:
- Ball Position central with the butt of the club pointing to your belt buckle (no forward lean)
- Upper and lower body aligned (no excessive tilts)
- Narrow stance (just inside shoulder width)
- A little elbow flex so they feel slightly nipped into lower ribcage
A nice little checkpoint in the finish position is that you have rotated towards the target, the end of the grip pointing to the belt buckle and the elbows remain with some flex in them.
From here just make some small swings just trying to focus on the bruising the grass with the bottom of the wedge. Don`t try to hit down on the ball we just want to wedge to glide on the surface to create a bigger margin for error. If you are struggling to hit the ground to start with don`t worry just keeping doing some practice swings and your body will start to organise around the task. Just ensure you don`t use the arms to try hit the ground here. Give me a shout if you would like some further understanding of how the club and body can work together to make sure you have a razor sharp short game.