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Steal a tour-proven technique for better chip shots

Steal a tour-proven technique for better chip shots

By Austin Cook

On the way to my most successful season in professional golf, including a win at the PGA Tour's RSM Classic, I avoided bogey 62 percent of the time when I missed a green in regulation. Without those saves, the 2017-'18 season might have been my first and last on tour. So if I can give you one piece of advice about your game, it's to start looking at your wedges as the tools for survival—and success. First, learn everything you can about the ones you use (loft, bounce, grind, etc.) and if they're right for your game (go see a clubfitter). Once you're happy with your clubs, use them—and use them a lot. If you don't practice, you'll never understand how each wedge and swing technique affects ball flight and spin. And if you don't have an understanding of those two things, you're not going to get up and down very often. Here I'll explain how I decide what club and shot to play and teach you my favorite drill for chipping it to tap-in range. Hopefully you'll follow my lead and become more confident with your wedges. —with Keely Levins

HIT THE TOWEL FOR MORE CONTROL

We did this drill in college, and I still use it. Grab a towel, get it wet to keep it from blowing away, and lay it on a green between you and the hole. Now chip balls from off the green on that line trying to land them on the towel. Experiment with different wedges, and hit from different spots paying attention to how the ball reacts to each shot.

You'll soon discover how to produce the trajectory and rollout you want. When you play, imagine the towel is still on the green, and hit the shot best for that situation.

“Whenever you can, go with a lower chip than runs out.”

GO WITH THE PERCENTAGES

This is a really tricky lie—downhill in light rough with a bunker between me and the hole. I can hit a variety of shots from here, but there's always one that stands out a little more than the others. The smart play is the shot that will leave you with a decent chance to save par (or carding no worse than a bogey) even when you don't quite execute it.

Here I can either land it in the fringe and let it roll out to the hole or fly it most of the way and let it land soft by the hole. Generally speaking, the easier of the two shots is usually taking a lower-lofted wedge and hitting the runner. But sometimes the lie, or the location of the pin, dictates that flying it with a higher-lofted club is smarter. For example, if I were hitting into the grain of the grass between me and the hole, getting the ball to release when it lands might be tough. In that case, I'd want to fly it high and let it trickle out.

LET IT GLIDE TO STOP IT QUICKLY

As I said, you need to get to know your wedges, including the bounce for each club. Without getting too technical, it's how much bulge is on the back side of the club, the spot I'm pointing to here. This design feature helps you slide the club under the ball and pop it up, which is why I want to use a high-loft, high-bounce club for chips that need to be in the air longer than they roll.

I get in a narrow stance with my feet open. Then I open the face a little before taking my grip. This exposes more of the bounce, making it easier to slide the club along the ground. If you swing with a shallow, sweeping motion along the turf, the ball should pop right up.

FIND YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Some things about chipping technique are fairly standard. For example, the farther forward you play the ball in your stance, the higher it will tend to fly. So keep that in mind if you like to play the ball back in your stance and hit down on it. It's probably not going to get too far off the ground. But there are other things about chipping you can personalize.

Two of my preferences are to leave my glove on and to make a swing on a path that's a little in to out in relation to the target. My path helps shallow the club and keeps me from chunking it. The glove? Not sure why I leave it on, it just feels comfortable. The point is, I own it. If you do what makes you comfortable, you'll be more confident on the course.

Source: GolfDigest.com

The shot they don't teach

Kiradech Aphibarnrat's unique chipping method isn't for the timid. Here's how to do it

By Matthew Rudy

It usually doesn’t take more than a hole or two during a pro-am for one of my amateur partners to ask me about the way I chip. You don’t see it very much on the PGA Tour. I play the ball back in my stance, hinge my wrists up quickly, and hit down on it with an open clubface. This creates a low trajectory and a lot of spin, so the ball quickly checks up. It’s a shot I learned growing up in Thailand to deal with the grainy grass around the greens there. I learned it from Thai pros Prayad Marksaeng and Thammanoon Sriroj, and I’m here to teach it to you. But with one warning: It’s hard to master. Ready to try it?

1 BALL BACK, HANDS AHEAD

This position doesn’t look so strange compared to a traditional chip. I play the ball off the center of my back foot with my hands ahead, and I open the clubface. Since the ball position will produce a very low shot, the open face on my wedge (a 56- or 60-degree depending on the situation) creates some height and spin to keep the ball from running out too much. My weight is forward, but my shoulders are tilted so that my right one is lower. I aim slightly left of my target because the shot produces spin that causes the ball to hop to the right a little when it lands.

“Remember: you need to aim a little left of your target because the cut spin will make the ball hop to the right.”

2 LIFT THE CLUB UP

This is where you start to see how this chip is different—and why it’s so popular in Southeast Asia to get out of heavy, grainy rough. I make a little shoulder turn in the backswing, but mostly lift the club straight up with my wrists. You’re trying to create a very steep angle of attack so the club can come down on the ball without getting caught up in the grass. The steepness also helps keep the club from passing under a ball sitting up in the rough. It will probably scare you at first to try this wrist set because it feels different. But keep at it. You need the reps. I’ve hit thousands of them.

3 LEAVE THE FACE OPEN

The most important thing at impact is to keep the clubface open. It gives you the loft to get the ball up and out of rough, or the spin to stop the ball on the green from a tight lie. (You can use it on tightly mowed grass, too.) The key from any lie is to hit the ball as cleanly as possible. If you keep the face open, the club should skid along the turf after contacting the ball. You don’t want it to dig. I think you’ll find it’s a useful way to chip if you struggle with poor contact. Try it out, and tell me on Instagram (@kiradech_arm) if it worked for you. No charge for the lesson.

Source: GolfDigest.com