Achieving a downward strike on a basic chip shot is a cornerstone of control and consistency.
Great exponents of the short game, such as legendary left hander Phil Mickleson, are brilliant at striking down hard on chip and pitch shots to create backspin. Some short game shots like the high flop require slightly different techniques, but for the basic chip shots left handed golfers should strike down through the ball to prevent scooping.
Scooping occurs when the club head overtakes the hands. This is usually caused by the player attempting to lift the ball into the air. There are a number of causes and symptoms such as the right wrist breaking down through impact.
The first thing all left handed golfers must establish is a correct set up position and basic technique.
How to play a chip-and-run
1. Take hold of the grip a little further down the handle for more control over the ball.
2. Set the club face square to the ball-to-target line if the chip is straight (if the shot will turn on the green then aim accordingly).
3. During the pre-shot routine, it’s important to envisage where the ball will land and where it will roll to.
4. Take a narrow stance with the ball positioned back of center (near the left foot) and set the feet slightly open to the target.
5. This opening of the feet and hips pre-sets the lower body for impact; the shoulders should still be parallel to the target line.
6. The hands should be leaning the shaft forward of the ball, opposite the right thigh. This is important as it will help ensure a downward strike, hitting the ball first then turf.
7. About 60% to 70% of body weight should be on the right side, again this encourages a downward strike.
8. Swing the club away and try to keep wrist movement to a minimum. Make it an arms and shoulders driven stroke
9. Keep your swing the same length back and through with the weight maintained on the front foot.
Using this basic chipping technique will help the left handed golfer maintain a downward angle of attack, with the club bottoming out in its arc just after the ball. To ensure you don’t scoop the ball upwards and keep the right wrist firm through impact, use this drill.
Right Wrist Ruler Drill
Wear a watch or thick elastic band around the right wrist. Just before you start striking shots, slip a normal 30cm ruler down through the watch/band so it lies flat against the back of the right hand and back of the right forearm.
Begin to hit basic chip shots from the side of the green using the above technique, with the ruler resting on the back of the hand and forearm. If the right wrist stays firm, the ruler will stay in place and not be bent. If the right wrist does break down and the left hand begins to scoop at the ball, pressure will build up against the ruler and you will get instant feedback.
Although tempting at times, left handed golfers should resist scooping at the ball as to create a consistent and repeatable chipping technique, the right wrist should remain firm and the strike should be down through the ball.