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Golf tip of the week

Chip your way to better ball striking

I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have taught many new golfers and believe that it’s best to start with the short game. Learning to hit the center of the club is very empowering for the new golfer, and is the first step to becoming a good ball striker and building confidence.

There are a few common faults that I witness many golfers make repeatedly in their short games regardless of their skill level. Fortunately, they are very easy fixes, and most students see instant results once the adjustments are made.

The first is the tendency for the golfer to set up with too much weight on their back foot and often times their hands behind the ball. This can cause the golfer to hit the ball “fat,” striking the ground before the ball, or hit it thin, trying to “flip” it with their hands — both common chipping faults.

As you address the ball, strive to get your sternum and hands slightly ahead of the golf ball and your weight primarily on your forward foot. Try to keep your weight on your forward foot and your hands slightly ahead of the ball throughout the swing.

As a drill, I will have students stand on just their forward foot if they have good balance or with their rear foot pulled back and their toe pointing down. This reinforces their weight being forward. My junior golfers often refer to this one-legged drill as the “flamingo drill.”

This new setup with your weight on your forward foot gives you a much better chance of catching the ball squarely. In addition to a faulty setup, I see many golfers take the club too far inside or around their body in their takeaway, again causing the golfer to strike the ground too early. Instead, keep the club moving straight back and straight through toward your target. I’ve found that placing an alignment stick parallel to my target line helps me to see if my club is moving too far inside and around me. I still have this tendency even after 35 years of playing. But I’ve learned to evaluate based on the contact I’m making with the ball and make the adjustments to both my setup and takeaway accordingly.

Know someone you want to introduce the game to or someone who is currently struggling around the green? Get a wedge in their hand and encourage them to try the things mentioned above.

— Shelly Collins, LPGA member, The Canyon Club

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