Thursday, March 1, 2007
Turn Three Shots Into Two
Use these simple chips to become a scoring machine
The Mid-Trickler is the best option when you’ve only got a small amount of green with which to work (20 feet or less), yet significantly more room than the situation best-suited for the High Softie. The Mid-Trickler also requires a reasonable lie, one where there’s some grass under the ball (beware tight lies and hardpan). Like the Low Runner shot we’ll discuss next, the Mid-Trickler is a low-risk play. Nevertheless, it requires practice in order to catch the ball just right. Effectively played, expect the Mid-Trickler to produce a shot where the ball hops once, checks up and then trickles toward the hole.
Set up with the ball positioned more toward the center of your stance and your shoulders level. This setup encourages a fairly neutral shaft lean, which will allow you to make contact with the ball using the “true” loft of the golf club.
In order to consistently get the ball close to the hole from short range, it’s crucial that you don’t add or subtract loft from the clubface, which automatically reduces or increases the distance of the shot, respectively. A slight forward lean of the shaft and level shoulders at address best allows you to maintain the true loft of the club.
The Low Runner
The Low Runner is the preferred play when there’s plenty of green between you and the flagstick—say, over 20 feet or so. You can play this shot from nearly any type of lie, particularly a tight lie, when there’s not much grass under the ball. There’s very little risk involved and you should expect the ball to skid, check up and then run toward the hole. It’s a shot that would make your Scottish ancestors proud. Even better, it takes advantage of one of golf’s key truths: It’s easier to control distance when the ball’s in the ground than when it’s in the air.
To play the Low Runner, move the ball back in your stance and tilt your left shoulder lower than the right. This will ensure the correct shaft lean (toward the target) that you need to reduce the loft on your club and help you use the leading edge to pinch the ball crisply.
In order to keep the ball low (and this is true for any low shot, not just the chipping play we’re discussing here), the shaft must lean forward at address. This creates a more shallow impact and keeps the golf ball from “climbing” up the face and launching high. Of course, if you simply forward-pressed your hands from your standard chipping address position, you’d run into a myriad of swing problems. The trick is to set the lean by tilting your right shoulder lower than your left. This automatically sets the forward shaft lean. It also encourages a forward displacement of weight, which should also aid your technique.
Its All In The Lean
Hopefully, you understand that the key to executing these shots requires the correct shaft and spine lean at address. Leaning the shaft and spine away from the target controls the height of your shots, and it’s the height associated with each that makes such an invaluable play. Practice these three shots, learn when to use them and become a scorer!
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