I’ve made a commitment to myself that I will focus the vast majority of my practice time this year to the short game – chipping and putting.
Set up with fairly narrow stance, ball positioned in the middle. Turn both feet towards the target (will give the impression ball is back in stance, but it is actually on my COG). Weight on left side, sternum in front of ball. A bit like you are leaning into a wall on the left hand side of your body.
The swing itself feels a bit like a putting stroke – no hinging of the arms or wrists. Arms are totally connected to the torso. Two very important points (1) you must accelerate into the golf ball, so don’t make the backswing too long because that automatically causes you to decelerate and (2) you have to keep turning through the shot, if you stall the arms will take over and you will get inconsistent results. Keeping the arms connected to the body should in effect force you to keep your body moving to move the club.
I’m reasonably comfortable with the technique, I just need to keep practising it. The thing I really need to nail down is distance control. I need a short game plan. I need to know how far each club carries and rolls with the same swing so I can take the guess work out (within reason) around the greens. Still need to work this out on the chipping green.
Strategy A – use the same length swing for every club in the bag e.g. 7 to 5 swing and log the carry and roll distances. Work out the ratios e.g. 6 iron might be 1:3 e.g. for every 1 yard it carries in the air, it rolls 3. I feel like this is possibly over-complicating it, surely I will only ever use two or three clubs for chipping?
Strategy B – pick two or three clubs as my chipping clubs. All short chips with my 60 degree for example. Bump and runs, my 8 iron. Calibrate with say 3 distances each, such as:
60 degree – 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards.
6 iron – 30 yards, 40 yards.
Get an understand of each of what the landing zone needs to be.
HUGELY IMPORTANT IN CHIPPING – YOU TARGET IS NOT THE FLAG, IT IS A LANDING ZONE OR SPOT.
So if I am just off the green, chipping to a flag that is 20 yards away, I will actually pick a spot about 10 yards on and focus on landing the ball there.
I still haven’t spent anything like enough time on it, but have picked something up off Phil Mickelson that is already helping a bit.
My backswing is a lot shorter and I chase the ball towards the hole with the putter. So more energy is going into my through-swing, rather than my backswing. I still need to do a lot of work on distance control.
Much happier with my wedge game.
Technique is very similar to chipping. No conscious hinge of the arms or club, I retain as much width as possible in the swing and let the bounce do it’s job. I achieve some angle into the ball by putting more weight into my left side. Ball is positioned middle of stance to slightly back.
It is really just a longer version of my chipping stroke.
Rough guide to carry distances with a ‘full’ swing – feels like I go to about 9pm:
60 – 65 yards
56 – 75 yards
52 – 85 yards
PW – 110 yards
Using these distances as foundation, I can dial back e.g. 8pm swing to hit certain distances depending on conditions. Remember, these are carry distances, need to account for a bit of roll too.
I’m not spending half as much time agonising over my full swing.
What seems to really help is the thought that I am shortening my swing. As my hands pass my right thigh, I immediately think ‘start my downswing’.
I hit the ball best when I also think about my left side starting the downswing. I have to be careful not to overdo it, but it feels like the momentum of the swing is moving into my left side. Like my left is pulling. Sometimes it feels like my left leg is sinking into the ground as the club starts down, and that is when I know I am going to strike the ball best. I guess it’s because all my weight has shifted into my left side.
Not so long ago, I was absolutely puring this club but now I’m struggling with it.
I worked a bit out at the range yesterday, realising that I was so focused on my takeaway I was forgetting about the rest of my swing, stalling my body, and my arms were taking over. The funny thing is, when I was hitting the ball lovely a few weeks ago I thought it was because I was focusing on a nice controlled takeaway (and it no doubt helped) but reality is I was probably moving really well through the ball too. I can remember one or two good swings where I held the finish and I had really rotated well through the ball. But in my attempts to replicate these swings, I had focused on one thing – the takeaway – and actually restricted other parts of my swing, producing some horrible results.
Note to self – don’t think you can latch on to a swing thought or feeling on a good ball striking day and replicate it forever. What is working is actually a combination of things, and there will be things you are doing unconsciously that are just falling into place on the day. Focus on one thing and it will be to the detriment of another – I guess this is what they call ‘getting in your own way’.
Honestly, this has gone to pieces. I had it down a few months ago and felt like it was one of the most reliable clubs in my bag. Now I can’t hit it for toffee.
Will gradually address the issues but it is not top of my to do list currently.