When it comes to hitting short shots from just off the green, many of my students tend to neglect some basic swing fundamentals. It's not hard to see why, since chip shots tend to require more concentration on things like slope, loft, spin and so forth. And in the shuffle of factors to consider when hitting shots, one of the more commonly overlooked factors is making good clean contact in the right direction. Hard to believe isn't it? We tend to get so wrapped up in body and hand positions and where we want the ball to end up, that we overlook simple things like making sure the ball is hit cleanly and spins in the right direction.
To work on good contact, direction and spin, I encourage my students to hit several chips from around the green with striped range balls. Only, this time, I tell them to hit shots with the stripe pointing directly at the target before every shot. From there, the goal is to hit a chip or short pitch shot, and make sure the stripe rotates end over end in the air and when it rolls out onto the green. By doing this, you'll learn what it feels like to hit short shots with a square or slightly open clubface with perfect directional control. You'll also be able to practice without thinking too much about the clubhead, which is yet another distraction come time to hit good, crisp short shots.
Also, this is a great drill to ingrain what your stroke should feel like from different distances. So try a few short shots, then move away a few yards. Just be sure the stripes are still in line in the air and on the ground. In no time, you'll learn the proper feel and direction that comes from having sound mechanics around the green.
Tom Leese, PGA, teaches in the Las Vegas area. For more information, visit mastergolflasvegas.com.