Improve Your Chipping: Picking Your Second Target
By: Scott Hogan, PGA Professional
When I ask a student what their routine for hitting a chip shot is, most of them (beginners to advanced) will tell me they want to pick a spot where they want the ball to land for the particular shot. As an instructor I am very happy to hear this answer because it means they are actually thinking about a plan for the upcoming shot.
The problem with that plan is that it is incomplete. It is not enough to pick our target on the ground where the golf ball is going to land, good chippers of the golf ball need to pick a target in the air as a second target to hit and get the ball to roll to our ultimate target, the hole.
With today’s golf ball technology and how little the golf ball spins (for average players) it is more important than ever to pick an appropriate trajectory for your chip shot to determine how much you want your ball to carry and then roll on the green. While it would be nice to be able to hit the low skipping spinner from a tight lie to a flag 4 paces on the green and have it stop as if it was a flop shot dropping from 50 feet in the air, most of us are not privileged to play on perfect conditions every week that help make this shot possible. Besides, given limited practice time it might be better to rely on trajectory and not spin to control our golf ball from around the greens.
A drill I use with my students is to put 3 targets on the ground at varying distances. While this can be done on the chipping green, I prefer to start this drill on the driving range. I define 3 different trajectory heights and make reference to those points with the help of objects of varying heights. Then the student hits chip and pitch shots, first telling me which ground target matches up with the trajectory target.
Once the student feels confident in hitting varying targets and trajectories on the range, we move to the chipping green and set up the same drill but put together a plan for the ball rolling on the green. Again, before every shot I want to have both the air and ground targets determined. After enough reps, the target markers will be removed with the same process of picking both an air and ground targets to a variety of different hole locations allowing the student to put into practice imagining the ball flying through the air and hitting the green with a desired reaction.
Start implementing this method of target selection into practice and onto the golf course and you will be surprised at how much closer your chips and pitches get to the hole which leads to lower scores.
Scott Hogan is a Class A PGA Professional at Royal Hawk Country Club in St. Charles, Illinois. Information about lessons and clinics can be found at www.scotthogangolf.com.