Understanding Shot Behavior Saves Strokes

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Golfers who attend our short game golf lessons know that improving their chipping is a great way to reduce their golf handicap. So they work hard at honing their chipping mechanics. But to save strokes when chipping, you also must know how a ball reacts after it hits the ground.  This is just as important as knowing how to hit the shot, if not more important.

 One of the keys to understanding shot behavior, we tell students at golf instruction sessions, is realizing that golf balls bounce and roll differently depending on two things—trajectory and backspin. Length of swing is also a major consideration when chipping but the principal behind length of swing is easy to understand: Short shots require shorter swing lengths. Longer shots require longer swing lengths. Below are some golf tips to keep in mind when considering shot behavior:

 ·         Lower Is Better

 If you practice chipping with different clubs, as we have students in our golf lessons do, you’ll quickly realize something:  The greater the loft, the bigger the swing you need to get the ball to the hole. You’ll also realize that the lower the loft, the shorter the swing to cover the same distance. But here’s something else that’s even more critical than this fact: The lower the ball flight, the straighter the bounce when the ball lands. If you’re chipping on a normal green, a lower lofted club provides better control.

 ·         Avoid Backspin

 Good chipping calls for less backspin. In other words the less spin you put on the ball the more consistent reaction you’ll get. That means the less dependent you’ll be on what’s happening in the landing area. What does this mean for the average golfer? From good lies, chip the ball with low minimum backspin. So use a lower club as long as you can make solid contact.

 Also, carry the ball onto the green without rolling it too far past the green. But if you do roll it past the green, watch how the ball rolls, so you’ll know how to putt the ball coming back. But the worse the lie is, the more you should move the ball back in your stance. You also want to use a more lofted club to make good contact. Making good contact is critical when chipping.

 ·         A Square Face Is Best

Sometimes we see students in our golf instruction sessions trying to cut or hook chips. This adds sidespin to the ball. If you can roll the ball without sidespin, you’ll enjoy better results. So aim your clubface square to your aim line (the line you want to start the ball on) when chipping. But be careful. Depending on how open your stance is “square” may look slightly left of your aim line. But after some practice, you’ll recognize when you’re clubface is square.

 ·         Avoid The Humps

 If there are humps in the green’s contour, avoid them. Humps are chip killers. Landing on a hump or even a slight rise magnifies any error in your swing or green reading. If you under swing and the shot lands short, you’ll hit in the upslope of the hump. Preventing it from reaching the hole.  If you over swing, you’ll hit the other side of the hump, kicking it forward past the hole.

 On the other hand, aim for dips or depressions in the green. These are much more forgiving. If you land short, the ball will kick forward, compensating for your lack of carry. Hit it long and you’ll catch the upslope on the far side of the dip. This slows the ball’s progress. The total distance of the three possible results—off the dip’s middle, downslope, or upslope—is roughly the same.

Hitting a dip in the green gives you the greatest tolerance for error when chipping. Like the other golf tips described above, these are chipping keys to keep in mind when considering shot behavior. Considering shot behavior when chipping, we tell students in our golf instruction sessions, is as important as choosing the right club and how big a swing to make. Improving your chipping takes your game to a new level and shaves strokes from your golf handicap.