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Making Chips Do What You Want
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at askme@thewedgeguy.com.

Today we're talking about chipping, so let's start by trying to define chipping vs. pitching the ball. I adhere to the adage that if the ball is going to roll more than half of the distance to the hole, then it's a chip shot. If it's going to fly more than half way, it's a pitch. But when it comes to chipping, you still have some options as to how you want the fly/roll mix to happen. This topic was inspired by a question from Chuck S., who wins an EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge for "chipping in." (Sorry, I had to take that.) Specifically, Chuck asked:
I have two chip shots I like to play -- a higher, softer shot for close range chips, and for longer range shots I like to hit more of a bump and run. The problem I run into is that on a longer chip I tend to get more backspin, so no run. How do you take spin off the longer chip shots so that they run out?
Well, Chuck, I've written extensively about the science of spin (refer to the archives of TWG.com), but let’s talk about your situation precisely. The longer the swing and faster the clubhead speed, the more spin is going to be imparted to the ball – simple physics of golf. So, when you have a longer chip shot, and you want it to roll out, you can achieve this in a couple of ways. The first option is to choose a club with less loft so that you can swing it easier. The combination of reduced loft and lower clubhead speed will reduce the spin imparted to the ball at impact. The second way to make the ball roll out more is a little trickier, but a technique that, once learned, will greatly enhance your short game options. That is to slightly roll your hands/forearms through impact so that the face of the club is closing as it makes contact with the ball.

Let’s dissect the three basic things you can do to the clubface through impact to make the ball do different things.
1. For the basic chip shot, you are keeping your hands quiet through the impact zone. They are rotating back and through with the body core and forearms, so that the clubhead stays square to the swing path and makes solid contact with no manipulation. This causes the ball to react predictably; its air time a result of the loft of the club and its roll a function of flight and spin.

2. To make a chip shot fly a little higher and check up a little quicker, you can slightly “cut under” the ball by starting with the clubface a little open and rotating left a little more through impact while you hold that open position by keeping your hands very “quiet”. The path of your hands, and therefore the clubhead, cuts across the line from outside to in a little more than the simple chip described above. The ball will take a little more spin, and fly a little higher as the result of the increased loft and “sliced” impact. Hit this chip with the ball an inch or two further forward in your stance than its position for a basic chip.

3. To get to Chuck’s question specifically, sometimes you want to ensure that the chip does not check up to much, so that the ball will take a good solid roll after it hits the green. This shot is generally most useful when you have a lot of green to work with, or you are chipping up a slope or rise in the green. Play this shot with the ball back an inch or two from your basic position, and as you come through the impact zone, slightly roll your forearms (and therefore your hands, shaft and the clubhead) so that the face is closing slightly as you make impact. This serves to launch the ball a little lower with somewhat of a “hook spin” to it. It takes a little practice to get the hang of this, but once you figure it out, you’ll have added a very valuable shot to your arsenal around the greens.
I typically am a huge proponent of using one simple chipping and pitching swing or stroke, and altering the results you get by changing clubs. But there is no question that, as you continue to improve your short game, learning how to get the ball to do three different things with the same club will give you more scoring options. To practice this, go to the chipping/practice green with your gap or sand wedge and try hitting successive shots with the three techniques, using the exact same swing speed and length. Watch how the ball reacts to each and put that in your memory banks for use on the course later. It won’t take long to learn how slightly changing your clubhead path through impact can dramatically change how the ball flies and rolls.

Congratulations, Chuck, on winning a new EIDOLON wedge, and I’ll see you all again on Friday, when we’ll be talking about shafts – the “engine of the golf club”.


* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

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The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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