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Chipping Practice for Reals


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#1 Tim Schoch

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 10:02 AM

I want to briefly share my personal process that greatly improved my chipping with anyone who is struggling.

Let me first say this:  I am a swing ho and I love to practice. I mean, the more reps the better. Not ball beating, but visual games and challenges. Anyway, if you don't love to practice, don't worry.  A good coach will keep you motivated, as you put his kid through college :) Also, I am not a golf expert, coach, or scratch golfer. This is simply how I roll.

In my chipping game redo, over the past six months, I have learned quite a bit about what I needed to do to:

(a) understand all details of chipping
(b) visualize and habitualize a technical stroke
© differentiate valuable practice from waste-of-time practice
(d) comprehend how to feel when there is pressure on a chip.  And more.

BTW, in all my practice and learning,I found no training aid, net, or other expensive physical paraphernalia that helped my chipping. My best aid was a tall lamp behind my back foot.  If I heard a loud clank and the lights flickered, I knew I was taking the backswing too far inside.

I started from scratch and went back to basics, learning by endless repetition and sheer attentiveness to habitualize a technically sound stroke.

I won't drag you though the months of reps. I simply repeated and tweaked the new stroke until I trusted it, then I tested it under different conditions, then I tested it with various clubs and set ups, etc. Then put it gently in the very back of my mind.

Now I felt I could begin the most important phase of this training:  I began to focus on the target. I was ready to be specific about controlling where the ball ended under all sorts of conditions. This was a rewarding phase, because the swing I had been working on, worked.

Next, I put as much pressure as I could on this new chipping game. Nothing would mean anything if I couldn't perform when it mattered most. I found to my great satisfaction, that no matter how much (self-imposed) pressure I put on a chip, my mind did not revert months back to technical thoughts. Handling this kind of practice pressure involved embracing the thrill of the moment and relying on feel to get the ball close.

After all those months of learning and reps, I now decided that my chipping game was ready to move outdoors.

Yup,  all the activity above was done indoors, from lengths of 12 feet to 40 feet (in my garage) on a faux grass hitting mat and various Birdie Ball mats.

There are variables outside I needed to account for, but they were not much of a problem. Conditions around most greens are pretty clean. Plus, I focused for quite a while on chipping off the toe, which is a life-saver in many cases.

The huge thing I learned though this process is the importance (for me) of feel and intuitive distance judgment, plus how technical thoughts kill my game and target thoughts have revived it. IMO, technical thoughts belong in a physical training phase. Target thoughts take over from there.

Also, I'm motivated. I am a senior golfer, and as my physical limitations may be growing, I enjoy knowing that I am still protecting my game.  

If there is a downside to all of this, it is that I have effectively fitted myself to my wedges, instead of fitting my wedges to me. They are in my bag for good.

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#2 hurley999s

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 10:38 AM

Great write up. Thanks for taking the time to detail your process. Gives me some things to think about and put into practice over the winter here in the northeast.

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#3 Tim Schoch

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 12:53 PM

Hope it's helpful, thanks.

I forgot to mention that I've always been confused why when I think technical in my swing, I'd duff it, but if I just don't think and hit it like a kid, I will hit it pure.  Then I came across the book "Be the Target" by Byron Huff. That really opened my eyes to the power of the feel game. The book isn't perfect, but there are good explanations and drills.
"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."
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TaylorMade Burner (2007) 10.5* REAX reg graphite
TaylorMade Burner 3-wood 15* REAX reg graphite
Adams Idea A12 #4 Hybrid 21* VTS Proforce reg graphite
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Titleist Vokey SM6 50/8, 54/10, 58/12 graphite reg
Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro #1
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X, midsize Winn Dri-Tac grips

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#4 cbm

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 03:28 PM

Nice write up... I’m in a similar situation w/ chipping & pitching game... in the process of re-working it. Thanks gave me a few NEW ideas. Good luck

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#5 J295

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 06:21 PM

Good post.  Thanks


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#6 dvq9654

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 01:56 PM

Chipping / pitching has always been the strongest part of my game, and I think itís largely due to the point you raise at the end: while technique matters, this part of the game is largely based on feel / instinct.

In high school, I would set up a bucket in my back yard and try to chip into it. Would move the bucket closer and farther, then aim to hit shots with varying trajectories to land in the bucket with multiple clubs. I wasnít being methodical or smart about practice, I was just goofing around and killing time. 10+ years later, I have an instinctual feel for how to put the club on the ball and generate the trajectory and distance I need on nearly all wedge shots. Technique is important Iím sure, but this trial and error feel based approach has really paid dividends. Would recommend more people add some feel to their short game.

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