Some "Different" Chipping Ideas

I’m sure we’ve all at some point or another received the all-time classic chipping advice - get the ball back, weight forward and trap the ball! You won’t hear anything like that in this lesson, but you will perhaps hear and see something you haven’t caught on to before.

Two of the best wedgers in recent memory have been Jose-Maria Olazabal and Brett Rumford. I’m sure you’ve heard of Ryder Cup star and Masters winner Olazabal, but you may not have heard of Rumford. The journeyman pro from Western Australia has won six times on the European Tour and has recently been battling wrist injury. Take it from me when I tell you he is as good, if not better than, anyone you’ve ever seen.

While their form in the video above is not identical (whose is?) there are two important movements they both incorporate. In the backswing they both shift the pressure forward, onto the front foot and in the downswing they both elevate or stand up through the strike.

Notice in the image below how Jose-Maria has moved ahead of the red line as he reaches the end of the backswing. My current opinion is that this stimulates motion (pressure shift) and encourages the chest to rotate through impact.

In the following image you can clearly see how Brett has elevated from the end of his backswing into the strike relative to the red line. This is perhaps the biggest mistake I see golfers make when wedging. They attempt to “stay down” and thus limit rotation and change the radius of their strike. This can have a mortifying effect on strike quality. And we all know that strike is king when it comes to the shortgame!

rumfordchipping.jpg

Be aware that these are not the only two great players that incorporate this motion - just two of the best.

There you have it, two simple ideas to go and try to incorporate into your next wedge practice session. Play around, be patient and I know you’ll start to crisp up your strikes around the greens. Thanks for reading and please share with a friend in need!

Shortgame - Land the Plane

Whenever you struggle with chipping and pitching you’re not making solid contact with the ball. The strike is off. This could take the shape of sticking the club in the ground or completely whiffing the ground. Landing the plane is an analogy I came up with many years ago that refers to how we should get the sole of the club to interact with the ground. There should be harmony. Watch….

A checklist to help you improve the quality of strike when wedging:

·      Feet should be narrower rather than wider

·      Weight should favor the front foot – slightly

·      Keep your chest rotating through the strike

·      Feel that you elevate slightly throughout the downswing

·      Avoid trying to stay down

·      Limit the hand and wrist action

One of the big no-no’s I see with golfers who struggle with the club to ground interaction is this over-riding objective to STAY DOWN. Stay away from it. It will wreck your ability to repeatedly land the sole of your wedge harmoniously on the ground through impact. So many of the world’s best wedgers actually lengthen the radius of the motion by elevating in some form or another.

Plane.jpg

Practice helps, but the correct concept is always the best starting point. Start with a few practice swings keeping the plane on the runway for as long as you can. Clip a few shots and then get to work on taking ownership of the motion.

Thanks for reading/watching and I sincerely hope this information in some way contributes to your enjoyment of this awesome game.

Updated Pitching Thoughts

This article is an update on the many pitching and chipping articles I've written over the last few years. Not much has changed since I did the Wedge Project video, but there are certain elements I have a deeper understanding about. Experience and the smart guys at PING have gone a long way towards advancing my understanding. Let's take a look...

Discussing pitching at a Three Day Golf School

Discussing pitching at a Three Day Golf School

  • Great pitchers typically take very little divotflight the ball low and generate high spin rates
  • Lower trajectory shots are significantly easier to gauge than higher ones
  • When struck correctly lower trajectory wedge shots will almost always have more spin than higher shots
  • Most golfers perform better when they deliver 45º-40º of loft at impact off a normal fairway. The club they use is irrelevant
  • The quality of the face to ball interaction (friction) is primary in generating spin and determining the launch angle
  • The quality of the lie plays a big role in determining the amount of friction at impact
  • Any moisture/matter that gets between the face and ball will typically decrease friction and thus increase launch angle and reduce spin. Control will be reduced
  • I used to say that sand increases friction and that is often the case, but I've found it depends on the 'angularity' of the sand
  • Cleaning the club face should be done often and with a wet towel - don't use a tee
  • The primary role of grooves is to disperse moisture and matter from between the face and the ball, not generate spin
  • Older clubs with worn down grooves will not spin the ball as much as a fresh wedge (all else being equal)
  • Premium golf balls, when struck correctly, will always flight lower and spin more than non-premium golf balls
  • The optimal technique is primarily based around managing the club to ground interaction 
  • As the player alters trajectory so shall the club to ground interaction change. Lower shots with less loft will often lead to a steeper angle of attack
  • Controlling what the handle does through impact is integral to controlling the club to ground interaction
  • I've come to learn that there is no single ideal spin loft to generate the most spin. Every different lie, situation, golf ball and golfer would require heir own unique "optimal" spin loft
  • I've been a proponent of draws for pitch shots and I've seen too many golfers have success with fades or draws to continue advocating strictly for draws
  • For stock, and thus lower flighted, shots the bounce plays less of a role than you might imagine
  • The number one absolute worst thing to work towards with your wedge play....stay down. Please don't EVER work towards that
  • I've become a big fan of 'core' distances. Depending on the amount of time you have I'd recommend practicing two or more of these 'core' distances and really taking ownership eg. 30/50/70/90 yards
  • Incorporate variety and skill development into any and all forms of practice

I have found there to be a multitude of different, and somewhat unusual techniques that work well for certain individuals. A good general guideline that might help:

With the weight slightly forward and utilizing a narrow and square stance with the ball positioned centrally, be sure to keep your chest rotating through the strike in order to have the sole of the club skimming along the turf. Stay tall and keep the chest moving!

All the best.

The Art of Being Skillful

As many of you know I enjoy deciphering which elements contribute to being a great wedge player. Ever since I started with my 'Wedge Project' research in 2010 chipping and pitching have really piqued my interest.

My recent testing, and philosophy, has been aligned alongside golfers using one club and applying their skills to control the trajectory and outcome of their shots in close proximity to the green. For ease of illustration and testing I selected a 58º wedge and a 15 yard carry requirement. I then played three different trajectory shots - a high, mid and low shot. I recorded each version in slo-motion and at regular speed along with running TrackMan in the background to capture data on a handful of each type of shot.

As you can tell there is a dramatic difference in the pace required to execute each intended trajectory. The technical changes for each shot changed as follows:

High: ball positioned off front big toe, face square at address and a sense that the handle slows dramatically approaching impact as the clubhead passes the handle prior to impact. Freddie Couples is a good image here.

Mid: ball positioned centrally, face square at address, medium pace and a sense that the shaft will be vertical at impact.

Low: ball positioned off the back big toe, face square with hands forward as a result of the ball position and an upbeat pace that encourages the handle to 'beat' the clubhead to the ball at impact. Zach Johnson's brisk pace comes to mind with this type of shot

At Impact

At Impact

The TrackMan data provides some interesting differences:

Club Speed: Low 23mph; Mid 30mph; High 37mph

Ball Speed: Low 27.8mph; Mid 28.5mph; High 28.0mph

Smash Factor: Low 1.2; Mid 1.0; High 0.8

Launch Angle: Low 29.6º; Mid 40.6º; High 51.6º

Spin Rate: Low 2230rpm; Mid 1630rpm; High 1250rpm

One thing that struck me was that the average ball speed was the same for each type of shot, yet the club speed was very different. The attack angle was steepest with the lower shot primarily due to the ball position and the shaft lean. I also found it interesting that there was roughly 10º difference in the launch angle of each version.

The numbers might be important for coaches to understand, but what can you, the player looking to save strokes take away?

  • Stick with one club around the greens - you'll become a skilled artisan with it in your hands.
  • Alter the trajectory with subtle changes at address and less subtle changes in the pace.
  • The manner in which you release the clubhead through impact will make a big difference
  • Now get to work!

Thanks for reading and please share with a friend. Happy New Year and all the best for a fabulous 2018. #birdies

3 Key Drills for Great Wedge Play

Far too many golfers struggle with their wedge play. I see it all the time! In this article and video I have dug deep and come up with my three favorite drills for you to practice if you'd like to get better from close range. Take a look...

Impact Drag Drill

  • Using an alignment rod in lieu of a club take your normal pitching address position
  • Place the tip of the rod on the ground about 3 feet behind where the ball would be
  • Keeping the arms extended, rotate and elevate the lead shoulder to get the rod through impact

Pitching Draw Drill

  • Tee the ball up and place an alignment rod between the ball and the target
  • The objective is to get the ball to draw around the rod
  • Have the handle traveling up and in while the clubhead travel down and out for draws

9 Ball Trajectory Drill

  • Using nine balls to develop skill and adaptability
  • Hit the first three balls to three different targets with your stock trajectory
  • The second three balls are hit with a slightly higher trajectory to different targets
  • The final three are hit with a lower trajectory to different targets as well

My hope is that these drills will help to upgrade your technique, develop your skill around the greens and ultimately help you become a more well-rounded golfer.

Thanks for reading/watching and if you enjoyed this article please share it with a friend who you feel might benefit.

To Mill or Not to Mill?

My three test subjects...

I must be honest and write that I did this test in the hopes of proving a few people wrong. Instead, I have proven myself wrong. With my research for the Wedge Project I put my "stake in the ground" on what I believed regarding milling on the clubface. All the tests I performed using TrackMan and various wedges always showed that a wedge without a milled face generated less spin (albeit slightly) than wedges with the fine "corduroy" look of milling between the grooves.

I looked up a person I believe to be very knowledgeable when it comes to equipment, Tom Wishon. I read all that he had to say on the matter of grooves and surface roughness and his findings aligned with the results I was seeing in my tests.

Based on what I had available to me I had done my homework and had placed my "stake in the sand" in favor of milling on the clubface. It just made sense to me. Until this....

David Neville and the crew from Vokey Wedges have been kind enough to let me have access to a few test wedges. They sent me six wedges of which I chose to use three for this test.

No grooves and no milling

No grooves and milling

All three wedges have the same grip, shaft (DG S200), length, grind (M) and a stated loft of 56 degrees. I did not check their weight, actual loft, lie angle or bounce measurements. I hit 60 shots off a mat (to eliminate ground interference) with the no groove, no milling club and 60 shots off a mat with the no groove, milled club. I then eliminated the 15 lowest spinning shots to leave the remaining 45 highest spinning shots with each club. I used slightly used ProV1X balls and attempted to carry each shot 50 yards. I wiped or cleaned the clubface between every 3rd or 4th shot. Here are the results:

Titleist SM4 TVD M 56 degree Chrome Fly Cut without Grooves or Milling

Titleist SM5 56.10 M 56 degree Raw Surface without Grooves/Milling Only

As you can see the club that had surface milling or roughness actually generated less spin - 6009 RPM to 6229 RPM. While the difference between the two is negligible and most golfers would have a hard time telling the difference between the ball flight of one versus the other (myself included), the result is significant to me in that I firmly believed the outcome would be reversed.

Keep in mind this is a test involving one golfer hitting a limited number of shots to one distance. The results might be a slightly different with multiple golfers at different distances, but I don't believe different enough to sway the outcome of this test.

I recently posted this quote by Martin Palmer on Twitter: "The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student." Today my "stake in the sand" moved - I was a student and I learned something. I think it is vital as a coach, or even as a golfer, to place your "stake in the sand" and firmly believe in a method, approach or theory. Stand by it and argue in its favor. That is, until you uncover sound evidence or reasoning against your viewpoint - then you pick up your stake, admit you were wrong and adjust your approach.

As a point of interest I wanted to see how a standard clubface might interact with the ball. I hit 25 shots (keeping the best 20) with the Titleist SM4 TVD M grind that has 17 standard grooves and a milled face. Here are those results:

Titleist SM4 TVD M 56 degree Black Oxide 17 Grooves with Surface Milling

As you can see this clubface with both grooves and surface roughness generated the highest spin rates of all three clubs. This leads me to believe that grooves play a larger, more important role on cleanly struck shots than I originally thought.

As I continue to learn and work towards providing my students with what I believe to be the best current information and knowledge available I know that I will continue to be wrong. The blessing is that each time I am wrong I will learn, adjust and be less wrong than I was before.

The Wedge Project and a New Look!

I am very excited to announce the release of The Wedge Project. It has been a long time in the making and I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would when I departed on a simple research project almost four years ago. That idea, to learn more about that low launching, high spin pitch or chip shots that golfers would sometimes hit, has opened my eyes to what I now view as the "missing link" to short game instruction.

wedgeproject

Thank you all so much for your patience as you have waited for me to get this "project" out to you. I am pleased with the product and know that everyone will benefit from the information presented. If you like/enjoy/appreciate what you see could I ask that you please share with your friends how they too might be able to purchase the video - unless of course you don't want them pitching/chipping any better. 

Thank you for your support and readership and I am grateful for anything you could do to help get the word out. Please share your thoughts here and on Twitter using #wedgeproject

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Also, I hope you enjoy the new look of Andrew Rice Golf. We would love to hear your comments, both positive and constructive. If there is anything wrong or missing please shoot me a note and I'll work to get it taken care of ASAP.

Thanks again for everything - without you this site would not be possible.






Jason Dufner on Pitching

I have never watched a shortgame or wedge video where I agree 100% with everything that has been said. Here is Jason Dufner and I agree with everything he says in this brief video. I am not being arrogant, after all he is the PGA Champion, but I seldom go through an entire wedge presentation without hearing something I want to question. Really good stuff from Duf and his coach Chuck Cook....

I thought the following points were important: shallow angle of attack, quiet wrists, straight right arm

A few of my findings on the shot:

Pitching Truths

Wedges and Water

I recently stumbled onto an interesting tidbit whilst working with a young professional on his wedge game. It was early in the morning and we had been hitting beautiful 50 yard pitches the afternoon before and suddenly he could not get the ball to launch low enough with the spin rate he had been generating the day before. Now as you may know I've tested almost all there is to test in regards to a 50 yard wedge shot and of course I had looked into the effect of water interfering with the friction between the face and the ball. One problem - I had tested a wet club striking a dry ball. My results from the earlier test showed very little difference in launch and spin when there was water involved and I had since adopted that belief.

As I watched the young pro struggle to lower his launch in the morning dew it came to me - there was a difference between a wet club striking a dry ball and a dry club striking a wet ball! I had to run the test again.

I had to be very careful with the test in that I needed to use the same club, my 54 degree sand wedge, in very controlled conditions, with golf balls that were consistent. I used brand new Titleist NXT Tour golf balls and made sure that I cleaned the grooves and clubface off between each shot. I attempted to hit each shot to carry 50 yards flat and hit eight shots for each portion of the test. I removed the two shots that had the lowest spin from each portion. With the help of my TrackMan here are the results:

Wet club and dry ball:

  • Launch angle was 27.8 degrees
  • Spin rate was 5463 rpm
  • Height was 26.5 feet

Dry club and wet ball:

  • Launch angle was 30.1 degrees
  • Spin rate was 5291 rpm
  • Height was 28.4 feet

Dry club and dry ball:

  • Launch angle was 25.4 degrees
  • Spin rate was 6603 rpm
  • Height was 21.2 feet

The interesting thing in looking at the trajectory chart is how much lower the dry club and dry ball (purple) shots flew. Clearly there was more friction between the face and ball which led to a lower launch with substantially more spin. The dry club and wet ball (yellow) sample flew the highest as the water on the ball greatly decreased friction which led to higher launch, due to slippage and thus decreased spin - certainly not the optimal shot.

The interesting thing when comparing the wet club/dry ball versus the dry club/wet ball results was that the spin and launch were better when the BALL was dry. This was due to the water being forced off the clubhead and into the groove channels during the motion of the swing. Not to mention that the air dried the face during the swing too.

Moral of the story - always clean the clubface (unless it has sand on it) and dry the club and ball when possible. If you happen to have an early morning tee time and you're a dew sweeper, don't plan on hitting any low spinners! The drier the ball and club, the better the friction and the better the quality of shots you will hit.

Please read my first two articles on wedges and pitching:

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part I | Andrew Rice Golf

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part II | Andrew Rice Golf

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part II

In my quest to better understand pitching, chipping, and more specifically the low spinning wedge shot I needed to watch different professional players hit a variety of shots and be able to track the data from each shot.  My objective was to understand how friction or grip between the face and the ball influenced the launch angle, height and spin rate.  I have named the measurement of this grip and it's influence on the golf ball - friction launch.

I need to explain some fairly detailed physics as to how I measure friction launch, so bear with me.  The golf ball always launches somewhere between where the face is angled and where the clubhead is travelling - on both a vertical and horizontal plane.  The ball also always launches closer to where the face is angled than where the clubhead is travelling.  Where the ball launches between the face angle and the clubpath is primarily determined by club speed and friction between the face and ball.  I needed to measure this friction in order to see how it effected the trajectory and spin on wedge shots.

With the help of Mark Reilly and Edoardo Molinari, we came up with the following formula to determine friction launch:

(Dynamic Loft - Launch Angle) x 100/Spin Loft = Friction Launch

This formula informs us where the ball launches between the face and path. The percentage indicates how far below the face angle the ball launched. A friction launch of 0% indicates that there was absolutely no grip at impact and the ball launched in the direction the face was angled at impact.  A friction launch of 50% would indicate that the ball launched directly between the face angle and the clubpath and the grip was exceedingly high.  By the way - neither of these are possible under normal conditions. The smaller the percentage, the higher the launch and lower the spin and vice versa.

With all the various situations I tested I needed to keep certain factors constant in order to be able to detect why the trajectory and spin rate of each shot was altered.  My constants were TrackMan - to record the data; the golf club - a Titleist Vokey SM4 54 degree wedge; and the distance of each shot studied - 50 yards.  If any ball landed short of 40 yards or longer than 60 yards it's data was thrown out.  The factors I controlled were the quality of the lie and playing surface, the grass and dirt in the grooves and on the face and the type of golf ball.

Here are the average results attained from three professional golfers hitting 10 shots each in 7 different situations:

1. Clubface packed with dirt and grass/ProV1/off lie board (to eliminate additional matter)

  • Friction Launch 17.9 degrees/Spin Rate 4408/Launch Angle 34.9 degrees/Height 31.9ft/Carry 51.6yds

2. Clean clubface/ProV1/off lie board (to eliminate additional matter)

  • Friction Launch 28.1 degrees/Spin Rate 6501/Launch Angle 28.4 degrees/Height 25.1ft/Carry 50.3yds

3. Wet clubface/ProV1/off lie board (to eliminate additional matter)

  • Friction Launch 28.1 degrees/Spin Rate 6564/Launch Angle 28.7 degrees/Height 25.7ft/Carry 50.4yds

4. Clean clubface/ProV1/off turf/preferred lie

  • Friction Launch 31.9 degrees/Spin Rate 7178/Launch Angle 26.1 degrees/Height 22.3ft/Carry 48.9yds

5. Clean clubface/hard range ball/off turf/preferred lie

  • Friction Launch 28.8 degrees/Spin Rate 6625/Launch Angle 27.6 degrees/Height 25.1ft/Carry 50.8yds

6. Clean clubface/ProV1/off a new mat

  • Friction Launch 30.4 degrees/Spin Rate 6859/Launch Angle 26.8 degrees/Height 23.3ft/Carry 49.2yds

7. Clean clubface/ProV1/Off a tee

  • Friction Launch 30.6 degrees/Spin Rate 7259/Launch Angle 27.6 degrees/Height 24.8ft/Carry 51.2yds

Edoardo Molinari was also kind enough to submit his TrackMan data to me from the 10 shots he hit with his 60 degree wedge and 10 more with his 56 degree wedge: (the following shots were hit with premium golfballs, off preferred lies and cleaning the clubface between each shot)

60 Degree Wedge

  • Friction Launch 22.9 degrees/Spin Rate 6048/Launch Angle 36.2 degrees/Height 34.8ft/Carry 51.0yds

56 Degree Wedge

  • Friction Launch 24.4 degrees/Spin Rate 6046/Launch Angle 34.2 degrees/Height 31.5ft/Carry 50.5yds

NOTE: After a few weeks of practice Edoardo has improved his 10 shot average with his 60 degree to a spin rate of 8700rpm and a Launch angle of 26.1 degrees! There is something to this...

The deductions I took from the above tests are as follows:

  • Shots out of the rough, first cut or even into the grain lies are always going to launch higher, spin less and as a result fall out the sky faster and roll more after landing - no matter how good you or your wedge is.  There simply is too much 'matter' involved between face and ball to create optimal friction.
  • A wet clubface actually makes very little difference in determining how much friction, and thus spin, is imparted on the ball.
  • A premium golfball makes a noticeable difference with the wedges.  Not only will it add distance off the tee, but it will also allow you to hit better and more predictable short shots.
  • If the rules allow you to tee the ball up - go ahead and do so.  You increase your ability to place the clubface cleanly on the back of the golf ball.
  • Hitting pitch shots off mats is a fantasy world and can only increase the 'illusion of competence'.  No bad lies, nothing between the face and the ball, minimal consequence to heavy shots...
  • For pitch shots, higher lofted clubs do not spin the ball significantly more than the next wedge down (60*vs56*). They do, however, get the ball to stop slightly faster due to a steeper landing angle.
  • Average friction launch for a 50 yard shot is around 25%.  The lowest friction launch was out of the poorest lie (18%) and the best results came from an ideal fairway lie, a new and clean wedge along with a premium golfball (32%).
  • The quality of the lie is the most important factor in allowing a golfer to control the trajectory and spin of the wedge shot they are about to play.

Let's take a look at the factors that influence friction launch:

The Golf Club

  • The sharpness of the top edge of the groove will effect spin, yet most of the spin on a shot comes from the roughness of the area between the grooves.

  • In my opinion the wedges that provide the highest amount of spin are the models that have the roughest surface between the grooves - the new TaylorMade ATV and the Nike Vr Pro wedges seem to do an excellent job with 'between groove' treatment.
  • An excellent way to improve spin with your current wedges is to have the face sandblasted with normal aluminum oxide sand.   This will provide a rougher, more 'grippy' texture to the face.
  • The number of groove edges that come into contact with the ball also effects backspin.  In pushing the limit of the groove rules manufacturers can now put five grooves on the surface of the ball at impact versus the traditional three.
  • Grooves channel away some of the moisture and matter from rough that gets between the ball and face - but seldom all of it.
  • The grooves and face of your wedges should always be very clean - even when you're practicing.  Keep a towel or brush handy to clean the club after every few shots.
  • If you are serious about competitive golf I would recommend having a tournament set of wedges and a set you use in practice. Every shot you hit wears down the face which reduces friction at impact.
  • In fact Gary Player would ensure that his caddie never cleaned his wedge after hitting a sand shot - the sand particles on the face helped to create more friction between the face and ball for his next shot.

Turf Type and the Quality of the Lie:

  • When you are into the grain you will often get grass caught between the ball and the face, thus reducing grip.  A down grain shot will 'cut' very little grass and thus allow for clean contact and increased grip.
  • Different turf types are thicker and stronger and thus, even at fairway height, support the ball enough to keep it up and away from the grass.  This makes it easier to have a higher friction launch factor.  If you've ever played off kikuyu grass you'll know what I mean.
  • When laying up on a par five understand the value of high friction launch - lay up in the fairway and don't be greedy.

The Swing

  • This is where I am now focusing my efforts.  There does seem to be a method that DOES NOT involve a more open face, increased speed, higher launch or a cutting action that seems to produce a lower trajectory with a much higher spin rate. Stay tuned.....

Read part one of this article HERE

The Plan for 2012

I would like to dedicate 2012 to one word - scoring. I am a firm believer that if we went out and played a round of golf in similar fashion to what we already do, yet scored five strokes lower, we would enjoy ourselves a lot more and feel much better about our golf games....no?
At this point you're asking, "How I can play in a "similar fashion" and somehow magically score better?" Certainly upgrades are required, but we're talking something fairly simple. I believe a change in approach and practice habits in three areas, driving, wedging and putting has the greatest chance to lower almost any golfer's score quite substantially.
During the course of a round you hit somewhere in the vicinity of 60 shots just with these three or four clubs. Wouldn't you like to keep the ball in play off the tee on two more holes than you normally do? Or find a way to gain 10-15 yards? How about getting two more up and downs per round? Or even just making a higher percentage of putts from inside five feet? While none of the above upgrades are "game changers" on their own, when a golfer improves with the clubs they use for sixty shots per round, good things are bound to happen.

Here are a few really simple pieces of information pertaining to each of the three scoring components that far too few golfers incorporate into their games:
  • I have been able to help so many golfers increase the distance and accuracy of their tee shots simply by showing them how to hit up on the ball. Make it one of your goals this year - get on a launch monitor regularly and learn how to hit up with the big stick. Do you know that golfers who take a lesson TrackMan gain an average of 12-15yards? That effectively makes every golf course they play 200 yards shorter!
  • When it comes to pitching are you trying to do more than you should? Course management is huge in pitching and way too many golfers are going for shots that are beyond their handicap level. Learn when to "hold 'em" and you'll save at least two strokes per round.
  • You cannot buy a wedge without bounce on the sole of the club. Know why? The manufacturers want us to be successful with their equipment and bounce is an important aid to help us all wedge better. Use a set up that maintains some bounce on the sole of the club...it's not hard once you know how.
  • The single greatest putting key is to keep your eyes focused on the spot the ball occupied before it was struck. Sounds easy...no? Is it something you incorporate into your game?
What I'm saying is that I believe I can take multiple strokes off your game simply by teaching you to: hit up on the driver; understand bounce and how to use it; know when to go for certain pitch shots and when to just hit the green; and teaching you to keep your eyes quiet when you putt. How hard is that? If you dedicate your work and practice to the above items I guarantee that you will see progress.

Zach Johnson is a perfect example of what I'm referring to. He's an average size guy who grew up in the golfing mecca of Iowa, yet he's managed to turn himself into one of the top 20 golfers in the world. He's an efficient, yet short driver of the ball, a great wedge player and a very handy putter - a proven recipe for success.
In the upcoming months you will notice a change at andrewricegolf.com. The majority of all articles and instructional posts will be directed toward driving, wedging and putting. So whether you need to keep it in play or get longer off the tee, get it on the green or up and down, two putt from 40 feet or stop missing 3 footers - you will learn drills, games, challenges and techniques to get the job done more effectively.
I have been blessed to take numerous overseas trips to play golf and they are always the highlight of my year. My favorite country to play golf in is Ireland as the links courses and locals are simply second to none. If you are planning an international golf trip to either Ireland or South Africa feel free to drop me a line if you need any suggestions. Should you be in the early stages of planning your trip be sure to check out golf holidays abroad - they can certainly offer some excellent advice.
Please do us both a favor and do away with tips and swing fads and band aids - make 2012 the year where you establish a long term plan and commit to really getting better. It can be done...stay tuned.

Pitching Help

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to the shortgame it is vital that the golfer strikes the ball and the ground on every shot - and preferably in that order! Golfers run into trouble when the club contacts the ground before the ball, particularly with a closing clubface as the leading edge will dig into the turf. There is no quicker way to deplete confidence than to start  alternating between bladed and heavy pitch shots.

A helpful drill is to practice hitting 40-60 yard pitch shots with an 8-iron. Try to get the ball up in the air, with a slight cut action and have it land softly. This will give you the sense of keeping the face open and using the bounce of the club correctly. It will also prevent the wrists from being overly active. A feeling to key in on is the sense of swinging to the inside after impact (as pictured below). Be sure to keep the face open or looking up while the club tracks to the inside as this will prevent the leading edge from digging.  This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite drills!

What is Bounce?

Think of the bounce on wedge as an insurance policy against digging the leading edge of the golf club into the ground. It is very important for any golfer to not only understand what the bounce is, but how to use it to their advantage. An excellent exercise to do every now and then is to hit a few pitch shots off of a lie board. This is a flat plexiglass board that most club fitters use in determining the correct lie angle a golfers irons should be set at. If you do not have access to a lie board, use a piece of plywood painted black. Just be sure to not hit any shots where the ball is too close to the edge of the board.

What you should see...If the markings on the sole of the club are as pictured above you are using the club correctly. Should they be closer to the leading edge you might be in danger of sticking the club into the ground on your next chip of pitch. The most important aspect of using the bounce correctly is addressing the ball correctly. Take a look:

The Set Up for a Chip or PitchIn the above image you will see the ball positioned in the center (watch out for too far back as it reduces the bounce at impact and makes it easier to do some gardening); the feet are fairly close together; and the hands and weight are just slightly in front of the ball, with emphasis on slightly.

As you go through the motion of striking that chip or pitch try to feel that the handle and the clubhead get back to impact at the same time - in other words don't allow the handle to get too far in front of the clubhead at impact as you are then exposing more of that sharp leading edge to the ground. And we all know what that can lead to.....

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It's All About Impact - The Book

This book has been written to show all golfers' what style elements they can do without and what functional elements are integral to soundly struck golf shots. What is pretty and what works? Forget about form and focus all your attention on two simple keys that make all the difference in the world.

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Pitching Common Sense

The most common pitching errors occur prior to the club starting the swing.  They are poor club selelction and an improper address position.

Pitching Address

So many of the golfers that I teach have a 60 degree club or lob wedge in their bags and the vast majority of them are not qualified to benefit from it being part of their set.  It actually hurts their scores.  Most of the pain comes in the pitching department!

Golfers seem to be under the impression that if you have a shot that is shorter than the distance you hit your full lob wedge, then it surely must be a lob wedge!  Wrong!  Here are a few things to keep in mind when playing your next pitch shot:

  • You more than likely have a PITCHING wedge in your bag - feel free to pitch with it!  It requires a lesser swing, has a flatter face, gets the ball to the hole more efficiently (not via the moon!) and will still spin the ball.  Practicing with your pitching wedge will open your eyes to this reality.  It just takes a little creativity and feel before you are off and running.  It is the perfect club if there is any wind, the greens are soft or the pin is anywhere from the center of the green and back.  It is for this reason that I will seldom pitch with anything more lofted than my 54 degree (I have a PW/48 degree, a 54 degree and a 60 degree) as the swing becomes too big and the margin of error too great.
  • Your LW has the most loft in your bag, the sharpest leading edge in the bag and the highest potential for disaster in the bag, especially when travelling at high speeds! Reserve this club for the little specialty shots around the greens where the ball needs to stop in a hurry.  If you cannot think of the last time you saved a stroke with your lob wedge, then relegate it to fire poker or roach killer.  It more than likely will work better for you in those departments!  Shhh, I know multiple tour golfers who are currently poor pitchers who simply will not take the time to learn to hit these shots with the appropriate club!
  • Keep in mind that whatever club you choose to hit most of your pitch shots with the stroke requires a descending hit on the ball.  The weight must be on the front foot in order for this to occur.  This impact position can be encouraged by setting up in a chipping type address position (see above picture) and allowing the speed of the body rotation to control the distance.  Keep in mind that pitching is a chipping set-up and motion with the addition of wrist action!  Hit down on the back of the ball and keep the follow through short and crisp.   

The Finish

Try these simple keys for your pitching and you too will see the light!

 

Please visit the following golf blogs as they have some fantastic content:

Thanks for reading and enjoy this great game we all love!