How often have you seen a player hit a chip shot, making a nice contact at impact, landing the ball where they want, but the ball finish over 3m away from the hole? Perhaps this is you? Players should control the height of the shot and the distance.
How often have you seen a player hit a chip shot, making a nice contact at impact, landing the ball where they want, but the ball finish over 3m away from the hole? Perhaps this is you? It might be that this player has chosen the wrong landing area, but in my opinion, most players have a good sense of where to land the ball. More likely is this player does not understand that they must be able to control the height of the shot as well as the distance. Hitting the target landing area with too low a flight will result in the ball running too far past the hole, and hitting the landing area with too high a flight will make the ball stop too quickly, finishing short of the hole. The problem is nearly every player thinks only about 1 target in short game, which is on the ground, but actually there are 2 targets which you must hit so that the ball finishes close to the hole. The second target is in the air!
Look at me hitting this shot so that I can hit this shot close to the hole. I am picking 2 targets. Firstly, the one on the ground as everyone does, and secondly, a target in the air. This will ensure that the ball lands on the ground target with the correct trajectory, running the correct amount to the hole. The way I visualize this is with hoops, 1 in the air (about 5m in front of me) and 1 on the ground. I try and hit the shot through the air hoop and have it land in the ground hoop. Basically, if I hit both of my targets, the ball will finish close.
Air Target Control
No matter what level of player you are, you will only need to learn to hit 3 different AIR TARGETS, shown in the feature picture as Target 1, Target 2 and Target 3. You will never need to hit lower than this, and in my opinion, if you need a shot higher than target 3, do not try. This would be an extreme shot, and in trying to hit it higher than target 3, there is more chance of missing the green and making a double bogey than saving a par. In this extreme situation, simply hit it through target 3 and except a longer putt. You can still make the putt, and the worst you will do is a bogey.
Target 1 Technique
Club Selection – Consider choosing a lower lofted club.
Address – Place the ball position towards your right foot with your hands in front of the ball.
Swing – During the swing, do not let the club release. Keep the angle in the back of your right wrist that is created in the backswing to impact and follow through.
Target 2 Technique
Club Selection – You should select one of you sand wedges, between 54 – 58 degrees.
Address – Place the ball in the centre of your stance with your hands level with the ball.
Swing – During the swing, let the club release naturally so that you return to the same position at impact as you were at address.
Target 3 Technique
Club Selection – You must choose your most lofted club.
Address – Place the ball position to the left in your stance. Your hands can be slightly behind the ball.
Swing – During the swing, you must turn your upper body towards the target and feel a fast release with your hands.
Ground Target Control
There are only 3 air targets, but as you know, the ground target could be of any length. You will need to develop a feel for changing the distance of your ground target through practice. The good news is that the technique is very simple. You should not feel like you are hitting the shot harder or softer to change the distance. Simply change the length of your backswing and follow through, which will alter the flight distance. The most import part is that you should practice hitting different ground targets with different air targets. The same ground target with a different air target will require a different length of swing, and this is what you must develop a feel for in your practice. Here’s an example:
In each of the pictures, I am trying to hit a ground target of 15m, but trying to hit a different air target.
AIR TARGET 1
This is a good example of when I am trying to make the ball run up a slope to a back pin position.
AIR TARGET 2
This is a good example of a standard shot. The pin is in the middle of the green about 20m from me. I am trying a standard swing, landing it 15m, letting it run 5m to the pin.
AIR TARGET 3
This is a good example of when I have a bunker in front of me, and the pin is close to the bunker. I need to land the ball 15m, but make it stop quickly.
Note that in all the pictures for hitting all the different targets in the air and on the ground, at address, my upper body is tilting slightly towards the target, and I keep this position into my follow through. It is this that will allow me to strike the ball consistently. Striking the ball consistently is the final part of the puzzle. If you can hit your air target and your ground target with a consistent strike at impact, your ball will finish close to the hole every time.