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Use the bounce for chipping, too

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Golfers hear a lot about using the bounce when pitching the golf ball. It makes sense, because bounce plays an important role in pitching.

Bounce is the amount of “cushion” between the leading edge of the club and the ground, and it helps golfers avoid the inconsistencies that can result from having the leading edge “stick” into the ground on pitch shots. Different wedges have different amounts of bounce, but they’re all designed to work the same way. To use the bounce properly, golfers should aim to slide the flange or sole of their wedge under the ball, which allows the bounce to contact the ground and glide the club along the turf smoothly.

My question is this, however. With all the talk about bounce in pitching, how come golfers and golf instructions don’t consider it more with chipping?

When a chip shot is hit fat, the cause is often the same as it is in pitching — the leading edge got stuck in the ground and the bounce wasn’t engaged. If that’s been a problematic shot for you, it might not be your fault, because the way chipping has been taught to most golfers actually contributes to the problem.

The standard lesson in chipping has traditionally been:

  • Square the club face and open the stance.
  • Move the ball back in the stance
  • Move the hands in front.
  • Keep the weight left.
  • Use very little wrists while hitting down on the ball.

With this method, I see far too many golfers sticking the leading edge in the ground behind the golf ball. And I’d venture to guess that the majority of golfers I’ve taught over the years have been TOO STEEP when chipping.

Yes, it’s true that with the ball back in the stance, golfers are more likely to contact the ball first — but that’s dependent on the hands remaining well in front of the club head. Unfortunately, most golfers don’t do this, and as a result they hit a lot of fat chip shots.

That’s why if you’re struggling with your chipping, I’m going to suggest another method:

  • Open the club face a little.
  • Open the stance a little.
  • Keep the ball slightly back.
  • DO NOT de-loft the golf club.
  • Keep a little weight forward, perhaps a 60-40 distribution.
  • Use the same firm-wrist stroke you use with the de-lofted method.

Here’s the idea: If you are sticking the club in the turf — often called “stubbing your chips” — and you de-loft and drag the handle even more, you’re just going to get steeper and most likely catch the leading edge in the ground more often. If you are a player who can keep the hands in front and come into the golf ball shallow enough, the de-lofted method may very well be effective for you. Try both ways.

Finally, from a technical standpoint, the more you have the club de-lofted, the more spin you are actually creating do to an increase in friction from the ball being on the face longer. You DO NOT want to spin chip shots. By the very definition of the shot, it’s supposed to run. Ever hit a clean, crisp chip and it checks? Steep and de-lofted with higher spin is likely the case. When the top edge “smothers” the golf ball, yes, we get a low shot, but we also add spin — and the shot often comes off too hot.

In short, I see no real advantage to the de-lofted setup other than personal success and an attempt to stay the yips. And if you’re going to yip anyway, the loft and open face will help that too.

As always, if you would like to advantage to my online analysis program send swing to my Facebook page or dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. J

    Nov 16, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Dennis, what path do you prefer for chipping?? Some say inside out, others outside in. Confusing. What’s your take on path and face for that matter?

    Thank you.

    • Dennis Clark

      Nov 24, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      J sorry I just saw this…NEVER inside-out, slightly inside to inside is desired. Outside in is WAY better than inside out in terms of lesser-of-two-evils

  2. JPurtell

    Nov 12, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Awesome Advice.

  3. Dennis clark

    Nov 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    As instructional authors we simply offer suggestions. If they help great. If not don’t use them. You’ll know right away.

  4. alexdub

    Nov 10, 2015 at 10:30 am

    +1

    Of all the areas of the game, I think that chipping is the one area where you should just hit the ball. Bounce might come into play, but I think the more you focus on mechanics, the worse the chips get.

    (cue Tiger from early this year)

    • J

      Nov 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Using the bounce effectively gives you such a late margin of error that you can get away with less than perfect contact and still have a good result. It’s virtually impossible to dig the leading edge if you use the bounce correctly, so it’s a worthwhile endeavor to learn how to do so. Much better to get up and down on the first try vs. blading and chunking chips, a common malady of the mid to high handicap golfer. Once you get the technique down (it doesn’t take long), you can become more target focused because of the built in margin of error, resulting in better shots in the long run.

      • J

        Nov 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        Using the bounce effectively gives you such a large margin of error that you can get away with less than perfect contact and still have a good result. It’s virtually impossible to dig the leading edge if you use the bounce correctly, so it’s a worthwhile endeavor to learn how to do so. Much better to get up and down on the first try vs. blading and chunking chips, a common malady of the mid to high handicap golfer. Once you get the technique down (it doesn’t take long), you can become more target focused because of the built in margin of error, resulting in better shots in the long run.

    • Dennis clark

      Nov 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      No question, however as teachers we see poor mechanics all day. There has to be some”how to” to get any feel at all.

  5. KK

    Nov 9, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    I have started to play higher bounce wedges and placing the ball more forward to help my chipping game. Need more practice and course time to really own them but I already love the feel.

  6. Dennis Clark

    Nov 9, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Other factors include lie, type of grass, slope club design and lie angle. NOTHING is for everybody.

  7. JoeJoe

    Nov 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I would highly recommend looking at Pat Goss video on chipping. Same method but he describes it much better. This Article only touches up on the method. This is the method how Luke Donald chips. There are other minor details such as, opening the club face on the back and not hinging. Also your club needs to stay on the outside path of your hand path!… Either way a great chipping method.

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Instruction

The value of video

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In the age of radar and 3-D measuring systems, video analysis has somewhat taken a backseat. I think that’s unfortunate for a few reasons. First of all, video is still a great assist to learning, and secondly, it is readily available and it can be accessed continually.

Of course, it has limitations, that is a given. It is ultimately a 2-D image of a three-dimensional motion. The camera cannot detect true path, see plane, and can be misleading if not positioned properly. That said, I still use it on every lesson, because, in my experience, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Things like posture, ball position, and aim can all be seen clearly when the camera is positioned exactly as it should be. In swing observations such as maintenance of posture, club angles, arms in relation to body, over the top, under, early release can all be a great help to any student.

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I never evaluate video without knowledge of ball flight or impact. If one were to observe a less-than-conventional swing, perhaps a Jim Furyk, with knowing how he put matching components together, it might seem like a problem area. Great players have matching components, lesser players do not! IMPACT is king!

I have a video analysis program, as I’m sure your instructor, or someone in your area, does as well. It can only help to take a good, close slow motion look at what is actually happening in your swing.  It takes very little time, and the results can be massively beneficial to your golf swing.

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