Play Ugly, Score Beautifully

Stop the bleeding and get back on track

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You can't see it, but I just bladed this chip across the green. Why? Simple, I didn't use my legs in the stroke and I attempted to get the ball airborne using my hands and arms. Notice the left-elbow chicken wing? That proves what I did here was stop rotating my body and pull up with my hands. The result was an ugly shot, to say the least.

When you try to artificially lift the ball with the arms, the left elbow rises, causing the chicken wing.

See how straight my left arm is? That's what you want. Also, notice how my knees are rotating toward the target.

Hitting a solid pitch shots requires more body motion than people think. In fact, I like to think of my legs as more of a driving force than my arms and hands, which generally stay pretty passive through the stroke. As you can see in the photo to the left, I've maintained a good extension of the arms through the hit, and I've also activated my knees in the stroke as they turn toward the target. If you're struggling with hitting bladed shots, consider hitting some pitches with little to no hinge in the wrists. It may feel a little funky and look a little ugly, but it may be just what you need to stop the chicken wing and start hitting some solid shots around the green.

These photos show how subtle golf can be. The top two photos are of a good pitch and the lower two are of a pitch that I'm about to blade across the green. At a glance, they look very similar, right? But upon further inspection, you can actually see several differences in the two shots.

First, my good setup has the shaft more vertical, my head is a little higher, and the ball is slightly further forward in my stance. Next, in my bad swing, you can clearly see as I come into impact that there's already some separation showing between my body and my soon-to-be chicken wing left arm.

The right move is to keep the knees close together and allow them to turn toward the target as the club passes through impact. That's what you want.

Trying to finesse your chip shots is difficult, especially when you're having an off day.

Rock the club back and forth like a putter, and expect a softer impact, that is, it's okay to be a little more aggressive with this shot.

If you're mis-hitting some chips and rocketing others past the hole, try and miss all your chips. Yes, you heard that right. The "Chang Chip," as some of my colleagues call it, is a shot I love come time to hit consistent shots from off the green. It's not the prettiest shot, but it's rock-steady. Set up as you would with a putter, only use your 7-, 8- or 9-iron. Play the ball in the front-center of your stance and align the shaft so it's vertical (a slight lean to the target is okay). This raises up the heel, making it easier to mimic a putting stroke in the long grass. Use your putting stroke and play the ball on the fat part of the clubface. It's likely you'll feel as though you're missing the sweet spot, but that's what you want. With some practice, you'll see that the Chang Chip is a great option that allows you to be aggressive without hitting the ball too far past the hole. The toe-sided hit will be a deadened shot, so swing the club aggressively for better results.

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