Stop Chunking Chip Shots

I don’t think anyone will disagree that the most maddening mistake in golf is to chunk a simple greenside chip shot. Just a little swing with a 9-iron, the hole is about 40 feet away, couldn’t be easier, and you lay up sod three inches behind the ball. #@9!!

Even the pros do this (Hunter Mahan in the 2010 Ryder Cup) though they do it much less often than we do. Here’s how to reduce chunking to a once-in-a-blue-moon mistake — instead of something you worry about every time you chip.

Put your mind on the sole of the club, from the moment of takeaway and through contact. Just think of where the sole is and slide it across the top of the grass when it gets to where the ball is. That’s how you get the club to brush the grass the same way every time, practice stroke or stroke at the ball.

Forget about the ball, forget about where you want the ball to go. Think only of sliding the sole across the grass.

I figured this out at the range a few weeks ago. Whenever I go to the range I am always looking for ways to make 2 and 2 equal four. The hard part is in realizing that 2 and 2 are right there in front of you so you can put them together.

My practice strokes throughout the session had all been identical. I mean identical. I practice this shot a lot, so I know what I’m doing. Each time, the sole of the club brushed top of the grass in the same place and at the same depth. What more needs to be right?

But sometimes whenever I moved on to hit the actual chip, I started thinking, “Hit the ball,” and my stroke would change, and sometimes I would hit a little behind the ball. It took me a while to figure out how to correct that.

I thought that if I stayed with my practice stroke and played “Brush the grass” instead of “Hit the ball,” I would hit these beautiful chips, one after the other, and chunking was never an issue. And that’s exactly how it worked out.

You can use this thought any time you’re hitting a short game shot, from the fairway, greenside, or even from a bunker.

It’s the sole that matters.

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