The short game effects the scorecard in the biggest way.  Ignoring the venomous three putt, let’s look at the chip shot phase of the game.   Within twenty-five feet, our wedges must transition from being broad swords to scalpels.  The pitching wedge transitions from being an iron to being closer to the putter where touch and precision are key.  A second key to master is where are you looking when you aim? 

Where the eyes focus, the ball goes.

When you approach a chip shot, instead of staring at the pin, take a step back literally and let’s read the shot.  The chip rolls like a putt so read the shot like you would a putt.  Kneel down and see the breaks of the green and find your target.   The target should be where the ball will hit and roll.  Unless you can sink a chip to the bottom of the cup, the cup should not be your target.

Example Chip Shot:

Let’s look at the following example where we are just off the green by ten feet with fifteen feet to the pin.

Chip shot
Chip shot just off the green. What do you aim/look at?

Chip Shot Aim:

Where you aim will guide the power in your swing.  Pick a landing spot for the chip shot and look there not at the pin.  The pin will pull your swing too far.

Chip shot
Aim at a landing spot not at the pin.

Chip Shot Drop Point Aiming:

By aiming at our drop spot of the chip shot, we plan for the roll of the wedge.  A rule of thumbs is a pitching wedge will roll the same distance it flies.  So if the hole is twenty feet from you, plan to land the ball ten feet from you.  There is give in take with the slope of the green but that is up to you to determine when you read the green’s slopes. All bets are off if you can spin the ball.

Chip shot
Aim/look to land the ball on the edge of the green and roll to the pin.

Chip Shot at Pin Goes Past the Pin:

If you aim/look at the pin, your shot will go there and beyond.  This will leave you with a long putt back at the pin.

Chip shot
If you aim at the pin, the ball will roll past the pin and leave a long putt back.

Adjust your chip shot based on the slop of the green.  If the green slopes uphill, a bit more power is required.  Downhill lies more require you to use a loftier wedge or flop the ball instead.

A good short game hones the player’s focus.  You are not aiming for the green which can be 160 square feet but for a cup that is 14.18 square inches.  Make your aiming on your chip that precise so that you leave yourself a tap in par or roll in that birdie.

Aim small. Miss small.

How do you approach reading a chip shop?  What is your favorite club for chips?

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