When someone refers to saving your score on a particular hole, it typically requires a chip, pitch or bunker shot to get the ball up and down. These three shots can have the biggest impact on your score when learned and executed properly, since you can only do so much to make up strokes from the tee box or on the green. But around the green, using my simple methods for consistent results will help bresuscitate your round no matter how tough a ballstriking day you may have. In the next few pages, you'll see how easy it is to become more proficient around the green by using these tips for all three shots. It's time to save your score with Short Game CPR.WRONG! Three of the most common chipping errors are assuming the ball should be played way back in the stance, believing the hands need to flip over to get the ball airborne and thinking that your weight should be on your back foot. Wrong! These three errors, whether independent or in cahoots with one another, will produce poor results. Check your chipping style and see if you're guilty of any of these mistakes before your next round of golf. CORRECT! Ah, now that's better. The above photo illustrates the correct impact position while chipping. You can see the shaft is still perpendicular to the ground, even after impact. This proves I had my weight and hands forward, and I've avoided any breakdown of the wrists through impact with the ball. Hold this position, and you'll start seeing better results. WRONG! If you find yourself trying to scoop the ball when hitting pitch shots,it's probably because you don't understand the mechanics of how pitching should work. The key is an understanding of loft. With a pitching or sand wedge, you have to trust the club has plenty of loft, and the way to take advantage of it isn't to scoop up, but rather hit down on the ball! Any time you try and hang back on the shot, you're destined to hit it fat or thin more often than you'll produce a good result. CORRECT! Here we go. In this sequence, I've put my trust in the loft and allowed my body to shift toward my forward foot while accelerating through the ball. Notice the difference in hand positions here and on the opposite page. You can clearly see that my hands are leaning toward the target and I'm going to hit the ball on the downswing. This is how to do it! Also, look at the difference in my hip positions. I've rotated my body fully through the ball, further ensuring that I committed to the shot and didn't hold anything back. WRONG! Here, I've made a handful of mistakes. First, my body weight is still on my back foot, causing me to release my hands too soon. In this case, I'll either hit it fat or blade it (which is what I've done here). Also, the second big flaw is my lack of rotation. By not rotating my body, my hands are going to reach the impact zone too soon, and by the time they reach the ball, I'll be hitting too much on the upswing. CORRECT! The right way to play this shot is to be aggressive and strike the sand on a downward blow. To do this, keep your weight forward and remember to rotate your body fully through the shot. Look at the difference in hip and knee positions here and on the opposite page. By knocking my knees on the followthrough, I know I've hit this shot from my forward side. As for the hands, they should release after impact.
Derek Hooper, PGA, is the Director of Instruction at Lake of Isles Golf Academy in Connecticut. He has more than 15 years teaching experience in the U.S., as well as in Australia, Japan and Taiwan. For more information, log on to lakeofisles.com.