In football a short field goal is often referred to as “a chip shot.” But in golf, even a short wedge shot from just off the green is never really that kind of “a chip shot.”
That’s because while the putting yips are more famous, the chipping yips arguably afflict more golfers.
For some, it doesn’t matter what club they’re chipping with, sand wedge, lob wedge or 7-iron, there’s virtually no end to how many ways they can miss hit the ball: chili-dip, shank, skull or even the dreaded T.C. Chen double hit. In fact, look at Graham DeLaet just last week.
I'm dealing with incredible anxiety while chipping/pitching right now. It's not fun. I needed to WD to get it sorted out and get back ASAP.
— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) June 1, 2016
If that sounds all too familiar, like I might have played with you once before and be describing your game now, take heart and go to YouTube where PGA teaching professional Todd Kolb, a USGolfTV.com contributor, has posted a video illustrating how to cure the chip yips.
Kolb’s advice is simple and well explained in the 70-second video. His premise is that most of us who struggle with the short chip shot do not have the club swinging in the proper direction.
“What I mean by swing direction,” Kolb explains, “is the direction the club head is traveling in the motion…because they want to hit the ball high and soft, too many golfers bring the club inside and around.”
When they do that, they’re more likely to hit behind the golf ball. “When the club travels in and around,” Kolb’s video demonstration makes this easy to see, “you tend to bottom out behind the golf ball.” The end result of that isn’t pretty, and it’s usually not on the green either.
Instead of swinging in and around, Kolb says you want to keep the club head in front of you. “The club head swings straight back, and it swings straight through,” he says, and the ball pops up and flies straight to its target.
Kolb also teaches that when you want to hit the ball a little higher so that it will land a little softer and not roll out too far, you take the same basic chip shot swing: “When you finish the swing, you still want the club head in front but you want the club face to be open, or looking at the sky.”
He makes it look and sound so simple. “If you keep the club head in front on the back swing, if you keep it in front on the follow-through and you finish with the club face slightly open, not only will you have good contact with the ball, the ball will come out high and soft.”
Remember that no swing change takes root without a lot of practice. But if you do in-grain that in-front club head movement into your short game routine, those chipping yips will be just an unpleasant memory. And a chip shot will once again really become just “a chip shot.”