One Club, Three Shots

Master these three shots with your wedge

Golf bag with clubs
Improving your short game is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall scoring. Learning how to hit different types of chip shots is an important skill to learn so that you can lower your scores. If we could carry more than 14 clubs, legally, in our bag learning how to hit different shots with the same club wouldn't be necessary. We could get a special club for each situation that we find ourselves in. In fact this is what used to happen before the fourteen club rule was implemented. Golfers would carry as many clubs as they felt they needed. Fortuantely, with today's club designs we can learn how to hit many different styles of chip shot utilizing the same club. Today we'll go over three different chip shots that you can hit with your lofted wedges. I prefer to use a sand wedge, but a 60 degree, gap, or even a pitching wedge will work for these shots as well.

Learning to hit the shots is extremely easy, it just takes a little practice. We hardly have to modify our normal chipping stroke to produce the results we are looking for. First we are going to hit a low chip shot that will release and roll to it's target. The basic chip shot is not a big swing, it's used to when you are already realativley close to the green. The goal is to carry the ball onto the putting surface and stop close to the hole, or even go in! Use the releasing chip shot when you have a short distance between you and the green. You want the ball to land just past the collar of the green and roll to the hole. To accomplish this take your normal chipping stroke and slightly roll your hands over as you swing through the ball. Think about what you would need to do to hook the ball with a full swing. You basically want the toe of the club pointing at the sky when you finish your chip shot. Don't roll your hands to aggressivly as this will close the clubface too much and you'll more than likely hit a skulled or topped chip shot. You should feel a rhythmic gentle rolling motion through the shot. The ball will come off the clubface and fly very low, even with a highly lofted wedge. When the ball hits the green it will release and roll much farther than it flew in the air. How far will the ball roll? That depends on which club you choose and how firm you are with your stroke. You'll will have to practice this shot to learn how far it travels for you.

The second chip shot is used when you need to fly the ball a little bit further onto the green. You will want to fly this ball about half way to the hole and then let it roll the rest of the way. Line up to the ball so that it is in the middle of your stance and aligned with the middle of your chest. If you want to get a little bit more height you can move the ball a little bit farther forward if you want but don't go too far. If you do you may end up sliding your body into the chip to keep from hitting the ball thin. This will have a disastrous result. Now that the ball is positioned correctly just take your normal chipping stroke and make sure that you are hitting the ball with a decending blow. The ball should easily get up in the air by utilizing the loft of the club. One of the main keys in this shot is to make sure that you accelerate through the ball. If you are slowing down coming through the chip you'll never get consistent contact. If you feel like you need to slow down becuase you are going to hit it too hard then try a shorter backswing. Chances are that you are taking to long of a swing and it's much easier to accelerate through the ball when you use a shorter backswing.

The third chip shot with the same club is more of a lob shot. This is not a flop shot though, that shot takes special skills and a different setup to execute correctly. For this shot align your feet and shoulders about 5 feet left of your target. Aim the clubhead directly at your target but don't take your full grip yet. The key to aligning the club properly is making sure that you are not just rolling your hands to an open position. If you do that you aren't really aiming the club at the target. When you swing through the clubhead will close back to the square position, which is aimed 5 feet left. You'll end up hitting your chip shot too far to the left. Aim the clubhead and then take your normal grip but grip it like you would if your hands were aiming left as well. This will make the clubehead feel a little bit different, and it should, because you are now holding it in an open, or laid back position. Take your normal chipping stroke and make a downward strike. Think about driving a nail into the ground and that nail is just beyond the ball. This mental image will help you make descending impact with the ball and will remove the tendency to try and help the ball in the air. This technique will not fly the ball very far. It will hit the green and stop within a few feet. It's a great shot when you are in tight quarters!

Three different shots, one club. It couldn't be any easier!