A More Consistent Strike for Better Chipping

I was recently invited by Mark Crossfield to collaborate on a chipping video to help get our shared message across to as many golfers as possible. Being from England, you may not have heard of Mark over here in the US, but I'm sure that at some point you've watched some of his excellent YouTube videos. As you will see his information is almost as good as his manner and personality in front of the camera. Enjoy...

Here are two images I created for this article with the help of my new GoPro camera. The first one shows quite clearly how the hands are working for a steeper attack angle shot...

Steeper Angle of Attack

While this image shows the preferred approach with a shallow angle of attack and the handle elevating nicely through impact...

Shallow Angle of Attack

Notice how much more the hands elevate during the stroke for the shallow version than the steep version. I've believed it worked this way for a long time, but so nice to see clearly illustrated in the images above.

Here are the important things to remember:

  • Set up with the ball in the middle of your already narrow stance
  • Weight should be slightly favoring the front foot
  • As a result the hands are a touch in front of the ball
  • Not too much wrist action required
  • Land the plane on the runway under the ball (No CRASHING!)
  • You can create a shallow and smooth landing by continually rotating your shoulders through the strike

Thanks very much to Mark for the invite on this tip (and for doing the tidy video edits!) and to to you for watching. If you'd like to hear and learn more about my approach to chipping and pitching around the greens check out the Wedge Project.

Happy New Year and thank you all so much for your readership and support! I have so much more to share in 2015...

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

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part I

For years golfers have asked me how to hit low, spinning wedge shots and I've never been able to give them a confident response.  After the research I've put in over the past few weeks I can give them a certain answer - and perhaps even explain a few other interesting shots we encounter on the course.

In polling better golfers regarding what really good pitch shots look like, the response has almost unanimously been that they tend to be lower with more spin.  Edoardo Molinari, the European Ryder Cup golfer and former US Amateur champion was kind enough to help with the research for this article and he stated,

I've watched Tiger, Mickelson and Ernie hit hundreds of 50 yds shots, I've played with them and they all seem to deloft the club without taking much divot.

Which I agree with by the way - the best pitchers always seem to have a knack for nipping the ball off the turf without much divot and then firing the ball in there low and spinning.  The problem with this shot has always been how to hit it low, yet make it spin at the same time....

If you hit down on the ball you'll be able to hit it lower, but hitting down more only lowers height and does not, as is commonly believed, make the ball spin more.  So that option is out.  If we take a more lofted club to spin it more then we may get a little extra spin (although that's not a given), but now the shot will fly too high.

Here is where we need to get a little technical and talk about the forces and angles the club is imparting on the ball at impact.  TrackMan uses a term spin loft and it refers to the vertical difference between where the clubhead is travelling at impact (attack angle) and where the clubface is angled at impact (dynamic loft). My research shows that good wedge players have a narrower spin loft (dynamic loft minus attack angle). Let's get a better understanding of these important factors:

Attack Angle (angle that indicates if the clubhead is travelling up or down, relative to the ground at impact)

In studying hundreds of 50 yard pitch shots on TrackMan over the last few weeks I have found that good pitchers tend to not take very large divots.  Yes, they always contact the ground, but the club 'bruises' the turf more so than cuts it.  This would indicate that the attack angle is shallow - it is down but not hugely so.  Now hold on for the following part, because this should not change the way you think about a club striking a ball: my research shows that the attack angle should be shallow enough so that the sole of the club (bounce) actually makes contact with the grass/ground before the ball.  And this occurs even on ideal hits.....

Dynamic Loft (the angle of the face/loft at impact)

Really good pitchers have the ability to deloft the club without hitting down more.  This means that the hands are in front of the ball at impact and the loft on the clubface is often more than 10 degrees less than the static loft. For example in much of the testing a 54 degree wedge would apply 41-44 degrees of dynamic loft to the ball.

Spin Loft (dynamic loft - attack angle)

This is a very important factor as it contributes to, but does not solely determine, how much spin and loft each shot will have.  If you hit a pitch shot with 42 degrees of dynamic loft and you have an attack angle of -3 degrees (the minus indicates a downward hit) your spin loft would be 45 degrees.  Common wisdom indicates that a broader spin loft (eg. 50 degrees) would create more spin and height, yet my research indicates that when it comes to chipping and pitching a slightly narrower spin loft (without much downward hit), coupled with clean contact between ball and face increases the golfers ability to hit low spinning wedges. An easy way to narrow your spin loft with pitch shots is to take a lesser lofted club.  My students have had tremendous results by using the lob wedge less and getting a little more accustomed to hitting a variety of  shots with the pitching wedge.

Friction Launch (the amount of grip between face and ball and how that effects launch conditions)

This type of strike on the ball leads to a scenario where the friction between the face and the ball is far higher than normal.  This increased friction leads to a lower launch and trajectory with a substantially higher spin rate.  This grip between the ball and face is what I call 'friction launch' and just like the term spin loft it addresses the friction and launch of any shot.

As golfers we've all hit that pitch shot that comes off the face very low and the moment you strike the ball you know it's going to grab as soon as it hits the green. Your playing partners are yelling bite and as soon as the ball gets near the hole it comes to a screeching halt!  You have just experienced high friction launch.

Please check back in a few days for the follow up post The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part II where I'll discuss friction launch in detail and show the results of much of the research I've done.

To get a much better look at the data be sure to read Part II HERE