Chipping from bad lies? No problem with the right “tool”!
Bill Hunt, my first instructor in Bristol, Tennessee told me that I as I learned the game my “toolbox” of golf shots would get larger. He said “until you learn how to hit the ball from all lies you will never be the golfer you want to be.” Truer words were never spoken.
Here is the scenario – you have hit shot to the green but you end up about six feet left and the ball has nestled into a poor lie with only ½ of the ball showing. Before flailing away with a sand wedge let’s look at the problem. The greatest fear of players is that the grass will grab the club and stick in the ground, leaving the ball in the “high stuff”. We need to think what part of the club hits the ground first on a “fat” shot where we hit behind the ball – it is always near the heel of the club and never out toward the toe. So let’s make it so we can’t stick the heel of the club into the ground.
Take the club that you would normally use in this position if you have a good lie and change the angle of the shaft by “standing the club more on its toe”. You can do this by moving a little closer to the ball and holding the hands a bit higher, the club will be grounded more toward the toe of the club. Now address the ball on the toe and make a normal chipping stroke. By changing the shaft angle we have left less of the club in contact with the grass which allows the club to cut through more easily. Also by hitting the ball on the toe there is a dampening effect with the hit that softens the shot. This shot becomes more effective with the 6,7 and 8 irons due to the relatively longer length of the clubface to the height.
Don’t try this shot for the first time in competition, like all other shots this will require some practice. Work with shots of differing lengths and carries, using different clubs to feel how the ball reacts when hit off of the toe of the club. With a little practice this shot will become a favorite “tool in the box”!
Tal Buchanan is a Life Member of the PGA and has been a resident of Southwest Florida since the 1970’s. Tal is currently a marketing consultant with Golf Balls Galore and Golf Balls Recovery in Naples, Florida.