The Latest Chipping, Pitching & Putting Tips

See more sunsets on the golf course to improve your chipping and putting

See more sunsets on the golf course to improve your chipping and putting

Here is an obvious yet great chipping / game improvement tip…

Practice after your round and see more sunsets.

I know this is obvious, but after round practice has a number of points going for it that I would like to mention:

  • You are already at the course
  • You have just finished a round and you are warmed up
  • You know what when well during the round and what you need to work on
  • Your golf muscles and thought process are already engaged
  • The golf course is going to be much less crowded if not deserted

I suggest you spend 15 minutes chipping and at least 15 minutes putting after every round.  If you do this, I think you will be quite pleased with the results.

– Marcus

 

 

Chipping Tips – How to Control Spin

On August 22, 2012, in Chipping Tips, by Marcus
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Here’s how to teach yourself the skills to control golf ball spin around the green

Assuming that you are playing with a high end golf ball, you will want to vary the amount of spin you use for a given chip shot or pitch shot depending on the situation.  Sometimes you want the ball to roll a bit after it hits the green and sometimes you want it to stop as quickly as possible.  In the first case, you want to hit the ball with a limited amount of backspin so that it doesn’t check too much when it hits the green.  In the second case, you’ll want to impart as much backspin as you can under the specific conditions you’re facing.

So, how do you control backspin?

Given any golf club, backspin is directly related to how hard you strike the ball with that club.  Put another way, the faster the club is moving when you strike the golf ball, the more backspin the shot will have.  Again, I demonstrate my firm grasp of the obvious! :-)  Regardless, read that sentence again.

This is where the mental aspect of golf comes into play.  Meaning, think before you reflexively grab a club and hit a standard chip shot.  Imagine how you want the ball to roll and plan accordingly.

Here’s how to control backspin: for more backspin, make the club move faster through impact.  For me, I would take a bit shorter back swing and aggressively strike the ball.  For less backspin and the same distance of shot, I would take a little longer back swing and move the club head more slowly through impact.  Obviously, you need to practice this before you take it to the course.

Here’s how I would do it:

  • Find a flat section of green and select your favorite chipping club.  I like to use my gap wedge.
  • Using a premium golf ball, select a mid length chip shot to practice
  • Take a shorter back swing than usual and aggressively hit down on the ball
  • You should be able to see the ball check noticeably when it lands on the green
  • Try the exact same shot again, but this time take a longer swing and try to feel lazy as you go through impact.  You should see the ball roll significantly farther than the first attempt
  • Rinse and repeat until you dominate the green side game

By consistently working on this, you will develop the creativity to imagine shots on the golf course and the skills to pull them off when the money is on the line.

 

Personal Progress

On August 25, 2011, in Chipping Tips, by Marcus
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My Personal Progress Since Starting Best Chipping Tips

Starting this site has forced me to think more about my game, my technique and how I work to improve my game.  I’ve always focused intently on improving my short game.  I generally spend about 65% of my practice time on chipping, pitching and putting with the rest spent on the full swing.  This has helped me over the summer but I have not improved as much as I’d like.  My biggest weakness in the short shots is getting the ball to go the correct distance.

Since I wrote my first post here in July 2011, I’ve experimented with different setups for chipping and pitching. I’ve detailed my setups in this post.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Chipping

I use both setups.  When I want a chip or pitch to land softly and stop with minimal roll, I use the what I call setup #1 or the Shoulders Open Setup (SOS).  This causes the club to make a more glancing blow across the ball – increasing backspin and adding a bit of left to right side spin vs. setup number two.

When I want the ball to run a longer way I use setup number two.  This swing is much more down the target line and makes it a lot easier to keep the ball low.  You can still put quite a bit of spin on the ball with chipping setup #2, but for maximum spin, use setup 1.

Pitching

The same setup rules apply, you just have a more lofted club in your hands.  Here’s a great way to improve your imagination and skill around the greens: Get a 9 iron and open the face a lot.  Use setup #1 (SOS) to setup for a glancing blow with an open face.  See how far you can make the ball fly and still stop at the desired distance.  These little pitch / chip shots can be practiced from any distance – you can even do this with a full swing, but more on that in a later post.

So, here’s the part about progress.  I played this past weekend and had a terrible round.  A lot of things contributed to it, not the least of which was that it was 108 degrees outside.  Really.  I had some good swings and then ended up taking big numbers because I was working on taking the two setups I’ve been describing to the course.  I had some brilliant shots and some fat chunky shots that ended up falling short into bunkers, but the point is that I’ve never tried two different setups for my short shots.  When I varied the setup to suit the lie and the situation, I ended up hitting a lot of nice chips shots around the green.  I had 4 up and downs and missed another 2 due to hurried putts.  In short, my short game improved.  Click this link for more chipping tips.

The real message here is to experiment and at some point take a chance and try it on the course.  It’s the only way to really improve your game.

 

In this post, I’m going to try to explain two different options relating to the setup for chipping and pitching.  I have successfully used both of these setups for both chip shots and pitch shots and I have decided to try to use both on the course depending on the situation and how I want the ball to behave.  Here is some more info about how to use these setups on the course.

Shoulders Open Setup (SOS)

The image to the left shows a golfer’s eye view of what we’re going to call Setup #1 or the Shoulders Open Setup (SOS).

In this chipping setup you align your shoulders with your feet and set the club face slightly to the left of the target line.

The back swing is straight along the shoulder and foot line.  As you swing through impact, you will put a slightly glancing blow on the ball which will put left to right side spin along with backspin on the ball.

The amount of this spin depends on how open you set your feet and shoulders.  The ball will come out on a line perpendicular to the club face (which you aim a bit left to allow for a bit of side spin.

This sounds a lot more complex in writing than it really is in practice.  The key to understanding this is to get out and give it a try.

 

Shoulders Square Setup (SSS)

Chipping Tips: Shoulders Square SetupThe image to the left shows a golfer’s eye view of what we’re going to call Setup #2 or the Shoulders Square Setup (SSS).

In this chipping setup, you align your entire body along the target line that you want the ball to start on.  When you’re happy with that, pull your left (front) foot back slightly while leaving your shoulders aligned along the target line.

The club face should be set square to the target line.

The back swing brings the club back along the shoulder line.  From the golfer’s perspective, it will look like you are pulling the club head to the inside on the takeaway.

The ball will start along the target line and come off the club face with very little side spin.  Chipping setup #2 is easier to grasp mentally because everything but your feet are aligned along the target line.

Like most things in golf, this is easier to feel than to read about.  I urge you to get out and experiment with these two ways to setup and see what works for you in different situations.

 

Golf Tips – How to Survive The Heat

On August 22, 2011, in Golf Tips, by Marcus
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I played an afternoon round yesterday and the temperature was 108 degrees…Really.  I didn’t exactly tear the course up, but that was because I haven’t had much time to practice lately, not because of the heat.

I wanted to share a tip that will help you play in the heat.  I live in Texas, and as you may know, we’ve had a bit of a hot spell this summer (!)  We missed the all-time record for consecutive days above 100 degrees by one day and that day it was 99 degrees because of cloud cover.  The next day, it promptly got back over 100.  I’m not sure of the exact number, but I know we’ve had at least 35 out of 36 days above 100 degrees.  This means that in order to play golf in Texas, you had better be able to deal with the heat.

I’ve been an avid cyclist since 2004.  I use my cycling to stay in shape for golf.  Through cycling I came to understand a lot more about how my body deals with the heat.  Obviously, you need to drink fluids while riding or playing golf.

Many think that golf is a game and not a sport. To those people I say one thing: come play a round with me and walk 18 holes in the Texas heat.  They’ll quickly understand that this is a physical game and that your fitness level affects your score.

With my rant over, I wanted to tell you about a product that I came to know through my cycling.  I’ve used it for years and swear by them - Electrolyte Stamina Tablets.  I found them through cycling, but I LOVE them for golf!

They have trace minerals and all the stuff you lose when you sweat.  There are no stimulants like caffeine, so don’t be put off by the ‘stamina’ in the name.  These are partly responsible for me winning my flight in our club championship this past July.  I watched my competitors fade on the back 9 while I finished strong.  They were all huffing and puffing when they bent over and spent a lot of the back 9 complaining about the heat.

Sports Drinks also have electrolytes to help replenish what you lose through sweat and to help avoid cramping; they just don’t have enough.  Under the heavy stress of exercise in extreme heat, your body needs more.

When I’m riding my bike, I take 3 tablets every 45 – 60 mins and drink water and sports drinks.  For golf, I take 3 when I start warming up (1 hour before my tee time), 3 when I start the round, 3 at the turn and 3 when I’m done.  I urge you to check them out.  Along with the Electrolyte Stamina Tablets, I drink one sports drink per side and slam as much water as I can find on the course.  Even doing this, I lost almost 5 pounds of water weight in yesterday’s round.

For those that don’t know, you can tell how well you’re hydrating by weighing yourself before and after exertion in the heat.  If you’ve hydrated properly, you should weigh about the same as when you started.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to this company other than being a long time fan and user of the product.  I throw this out as what I hope will be another useful tip to improve your golf game along with your enjoyment of our amazing game.  Here is a link for more information: Electrolyte Stamina Tablets.

–Marcus

 

Chipping Tips – The Putt Chip

On August 9, 2011, in Chipping Tips, by Marcus
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Here is a Chipping Tip to help you deal with a ball that is close to the green but can’t be putted.

This situation arises frequently where you a close enough to the green to consider a putt, but you’ve got too much grass to reliably putt through. This chipping technique may be useful in other cases like ball marks or tufts of grass in the collar between you and the hole that cannot be legally repaired.

The solution to this problem is pretty simple and easy to use…just chip the ball like a putt. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose a club that will just carry the ball onto the green and get it rolling as soon as possible.  You should practice this with all of your chipping clubs – from 7 iron to lob wedge as each of the clubs will make the ball behave a bit differently.
  • Setup with the ball in the same position you would place it for a putt.
  • When you setup like this you will find that the chipping club will have its heel off the ground and you will be striking the ball off the toe of the club.
  • Make a swing like you were hitting a putt and gently catch the ball towards the toe of the club.  It will come out softer and with less spin than a crisply struck chip shot – it’s also a lot less risky from a tight lie as you don’t have to nip the ball perfectly.
  • The back swing should be slightly longer than a putt of the same distance.  This of course varies depending on the club.
  • You should see the ball cozy right up to the hole for an easy  tap in.

This shot is especially effective from the rough when you have to deal with a slick down hill chip shot since the ball comes out softer.  Just be sure you don’t chili-dip it and leave it in the rough, because you’ll have the same shot again!

The next time you go out to practice, put these chipping tips to use and spend a few minutes working on this shot.  That way, you’ll be ready to pull it out when the situation calls for it.

 

 

Here’s how to Improve your Putting through Effective Practice

Hi guys.  It’s time for a putting tip…

I know everybody knows that to improve your putting you need to practice.  No kidding…really?  :-)

Ok, again, I’m a master of stating the obvious, but this begs the question: How do I Practice my Putting Effectively?

This is going to sound a lot like the post about approach shots improving your chipping because it’s the same idea.

For me, one of the weakest parts of my game is lag putting – I work on it a lot, but I still struggle with 3 putts.  And, nothing burns me up faster than a 3 putt bogey!  So, my strategy for improving lag putting is two-fold:

  • Work on lag putting
  • Work on short putts

Here’s how short putting skills help your lag putting…You have a wider margin for error on each lag putt or chip shot.  Imagine that you could make anything you looked at from 6′ on in.  Would you worry about a pesky 3 footer?  I think not.  Would the odds of you being up tight and tentative over a long lag putt be reduced if you felt less pressure to get the ball close?  Of course it would.

So, let’s work on short putts…Here’s the best short putting drill I’ve ever heard; it’s called 4 for 4.

The diagram to the left shows how to set it up

The idea is to practice 4 foot putts with both straight and breaking putts until you feel VERY confident over these putts.  Make no mistake about it, making these putts will absolutely make or break a round.  And, if you do this consistently, your opponents will grow to dislike you intensely!!  So here’s the drill…

Take 4 tees and find a spot on the practice green that has a hole cut with a bit of slope (the better you get, the more slope you should practice with).  Begin by trying to see a putt that is straight up the hill.  Use your putter to hit sample putts or just roll the ball with your hand.  When you find it, put one tee in the ground about 4′ from the hole and directly down hill from it.

The next step is to walk to a spot 4′ from the hole with a straight downhill putt.  Place the tee in the ground to mark the spot.  Do the same with the side hill putts until you have 4 tees in the ground at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.  12 should be straight down hill, 3 and 9 should be opposite breaking side hill putts and 6 should be straight up the hill.

The game starts at 6 o’clock with the easiest putt (straight up the hill).  You’re trying to hole as many putts in a row as you can.  A perfect score is 4 in a row from each tee.  Make 4 putts then move to the next position (whatever order you like).  When you are playing with a practice partner, the turns change when one player misses.  Whoever completes the 16 putts in the fewest strokes wins.

As simple as this sounds, you will find that the pressure mounts when you have a few under your belt.  I can’t tell you how much this will help your game and your scores.  So, get out to the practice green and give these putting tips a try, you won’t regret it.

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Here is a great chipping tip to improve your short game play around the green…

Ok, here it is: Improve your approach shots to a level where you hit more greens. 

I can hear the groans now about how obvious this is and I’ll grant you that it is a bit obvious, but it’s also true.  You’ve all heard the expression that the best defense is a good offense.  Well, it’s true in golf too.

Do you want to improve your short game?

Then hit the ball closer to the hole so you have to rely less on chipping to get up and down to save par.

Ok, Marcus, that’s just fantastic advice, now how do I do it?  ;-)

You follow these easy steps:

  • Learn to estimate yardage or get a distance measuring device like a laser rangefinder or a golf GPS unit
  • Learn how far you hit each club on average
  • Take one more club than you think you need and swing easier.  Lose your ego about how far you hit each club.  I’ve hit 4 iron from 125yds out before.  The club is only a tool – so select the proper tool for the job and remove emotion from that decision.  You’re trying to get the ball as close as possible to the hole and a controlled swing that hits the ball on the center of the club face is the best way to do that.
  • Work on your alignment.  The better you are at starting the ball on the desired line, the lower your scores.
  • Lastly…practice approach shots from about 125 yds in.  For amateurs, this is the kill zone.  You should be licking your chops with a fairway lie from 125 because it has become your best shot through frequent and correct practice.

While many people like to talk in isolation about various aspects of the game, it is all interconnected.  The real purpose of this post is to get you to think about that and what you can do to improve your overall game.

One thing depends on another and the idea is to consistently improve a part of your game at a time so that you can rely on it…in this case, the approach shot.  By being good at approaches, you take pressure off of your chipping and putting.  Make sense?

Now get out there, put these chipping tips to work and practice some approach shots!

 

More Video Chipping Tips

On July 22, 2011, in Chipping Tips, by Marcus
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Here is a nice video showing some effective chipping tips that will help you improve your chipping and lower your score.

For more chipping tips, click here.

 

Pitching / Chipping Tips Video

On July 22, 2011, in Pitching Tips, by Marcus
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Here is a nice video full of pitching / chipping tips about how to vary your setup to hit low, medium and high pitch shots.