Chip & pitch it closer: Breaking 80, Week 3
CHIP AND PITCH IT CLOSER
The key to becoming good around the greens is to take some of the variables out of the equation. I'm sure some of you like to use your LW for every short shot, carrying the ball as close to the pin as possible, while others like to use a pitching wedge and bump and run the ball. Instead of using this strategy, I want you to start playing a neutral shot with the same swing every time, only changing the club you use to suit the situation.
By simplifying your technique and not trying to play any extreme-spin shots, you'll be better able to predict the flight and roll of your ball. Also, by adopting a more standardized method, you'll be much more likely to make solid contact, which in turn will give you more confidence around the green. Instead of feeling like you're guessing every time you walk up to one of these short shots, you'll know that you have a solid approach and a good plan. It won't be long before you're knocking it tight consistently and saving strokes.
STEP 1: GET THE TECHNIQUE
To make consistently solid contact on pitch and chip shots, position the ball in the middle of your stance with your feet together and your hands slightly ahead. Make sure you have your right wrist angled away from the target. In the backswing, allow your right wrist to hinge comfortably and let your hands lead the clubhead through impact. Turn your torso to the left to drive your swing and finish with your right arm and the clubshaft in line. Be sure to use this same technique every time.
STEP 2: CARRY VS. ROLL
Becoming proficient around the greens depends largely on knowing how much carry and roll your shots produce with every club. To figure this out, experiment on a practice green with all of your shortgame clubs. Pick a basic landing spot and see how much roll you get with each club after landing the ball in your spot. Learn to produce this same combination of carry vs. roll every time and you'll find it much easier to get the ball close to the pin consistently.
STEP 3: THE DRILL ONE SWING, SIX CLUBS, SIX SHOTS
To hone the proper technique, find a practice green with flags of varying distances and take all of your wedges and scoring irons (8- and 9-iron). You should hit 10 balls to each target with the goal of getting every shot within 5 feet of the pin. Remember to use the same basic swing every time but with a variety of clubs. To do this drill successfully, you'll have to pick your landing spots carefully and be conscious of how much roll you get from each of your short-game clubs.
WEEK 3 ACTION PLAN (3 HOURS)
1. Pitch & Chip Practice (60 minutes) Make sure your setup is sound and that your stroke can produce solid, ball-first contact every time. Practice with your pitch, sand and lob wedges until you feel confident.
2. Carry & Roll Practice (60 minutes): Go to a practice green with different-length pins, or set up some targets yourself that correspond with the distances you pitch each of your wedges using the same swing and the carry-to-roll ratio you built in Step 2. Your goal is to land 5 balls out of 10 within 5 feet of the pin or target with each wedge. (By the end of six weeks you should be able to get 70 percent of the balls within one-putt territory with each club.)
3. Cross-the-Line Drill (30 minutes): Work on your go-to shot shape using the exercise from Week 2.
4. Scoring Club Distance Practice (30 minutes): Perform the wedge drill from Week 1. At this point in the 6-week plan, you should be able to get at least 5 out of 10 balls in the 10-yard radius with each of your scoring clubs.