SHORT GAME HELP IS HERE!
The short game can be the most rewarding or most frustrating part of the golf game. It requires micro movements compared to a golf swing, but the results can be brilliant or catastrophic. We often lean on our short game with hope to help make up for previous mistakes. There can be a lot of hoping and wishing during the short game shots, either to get close because you live into the idea you are a poor putter, or to not duff it again or to not hit it off the green and completely blow the hole. The short game can be a source of creativity and excitement or fear and dread.
But it no longer has to be this way; we are here to help! With just a little understanding of the different shots and the swings associated with them, you will be hitting more consistent confident shots.
We are focusing on two specific short game shots, the chip shot and pitch shot.
Pitch Shot: usually flies in the air for a longer distance than it rolls. This shot is intended to land closer to the pin and have little roll once it lands. But of course that will depend on the green conditions and the slopes.
Chip Shot: is similar to a putt as it is hit low to and ground and will roll on the ground longer than it will fly in the air.
One of the best ways to get over the fears of hitting these shots is to know what causes the errant shots and how to correct for them. More specifically, implementing drills into your short game practice routine to train your body to swing correctly.
Improving the Pitch Shot
There are two main pitch shot mistakes:
1. Hinging our wrist during impact.
2. Not hitting down on the ball through impact.
In regards to hinging our wrist, what does that mean exactly? It's basically when we bend or flick our wrists right before impact in an attempt to lift the ball into the air. The concept makes sense for what we know about gravity and force but this is actually a counterintuitive approach. Based on the structure and angle of the club, it will go in the air when hit correctly without any help.
Ideally for our pitch shots, we want to keep our wrists straight and the club to hit down on the golf ball, which helps create spin, better control and better shots.
Pitch Shot Drill #1: Extended Club Drill
1. Use an alignment stick
2. Attach it to the end of the shaft. Allowing it to extend past your front body while addressing the ball
3. Take some practice shots.
4. If you bend your wrist you will feel the pole hit your front side after impact. It's a little wake up call to wrist bending. A few wacks with the alignment stick and you will never want to bend your wrists again.
Pitch Shot Drill #2: Ball before Ground Drill
1. During a pitch shot we should be hitting the ball first and the ground second. The downward position of the club during impact will create the necessary height and spin we need for this shot.
2. Gather 5-10 tees and golf balls
3. Line up the golf balls and place a pushed down tee in front of each ball. Pushing the tee almost all the way into the ground
4. Hit each shot, making contact with the ball first and tee second.
Improving The Chip Shot
There are two common pitch shot mistakes:
1. Decelerating through impact.
2. Incorrect weight distribution
In regards to weight distribution, the fault is more specifically not setting up with your weight on your front foot. Having too much weight on that back foot can cause you to hit up on the ball or lift at the ball, resulting in skulls or chunks. When the weight is properly favoring the front foot, we set ourselves up to hit the ball while swing down and through.
Chipping Drill #1: One Armed Swing
This drill helps diminish deceleration as one arm is not able to stop the club from swinging through the golf ball
1. Take your normal chip shot set up
2. Grip the club and remove your back hand, letting it rest at your side.
3. Practice hitting chip shots with the lead hand.
4. Worry less about the results and more about coming through after hitting the ball
5. Focus on even tempo back and through. This will help instill the feeling of coming through at a consistent speed and finishing the swing.
Chipping Drill #2: One Leg Swing
This drill helps instill the proper forward weight distribution at set up and throughout the swing. This drill is similar to our balance drill of BACK FOOT BACK.
1. Take your normal chip shot set up
2. Lift your back foot off the ground. If balance is an issue place your big toe lightly on the ground.
3. The weight will be on your front foot
4. Practice making chip shots in this position
5. Focusing on hitting down and through the ball
Rule number one when it comes to practicing your pitch and chip shots is have fun and try to make every drill a game. It will keep the practice exciting and also help teach you to perform under pressure because you have added that into your practice regimen.
Practicing these drills just a few times a practice session will dramatically improve your pitching and chipping results and get you closer to the hole.
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