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.

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

My 3 Keys to Great Wedge Play

If you dread any form of pitch or chip shot then this article is expressly for you. If you feel like you could save a few more strokes around the greens then this article is for you. Utilizing better technique will literally make these shots easier. Here are a few straightforward improvements that will get the job done. Watch...

Key #1: Set Up

  • Feet should be close together. The most common mistake I see is a stance that's too wide.
  • Alignment should be square. Yes, square.
  • Ball position is centered to slightly forward.
  • Weight distribution is slightly favoring the front foot.
The Proper Set Up...

The Proper Set Up...

Key #2: Wrist Action

  • Wrists should be relatively quiet in the backswing.
  • Avoid excessive cupping in the lead wrist. The left wrist for you righties out there.

Key #3: Body Pivot

  • Keep the chest rotating through the strike in order to shallow the attack angle.
  • Extend the lead side through impact.
  • Avoid thoughts of "stay down", "hit down" or "pinch the ball".

As you work towards better technique be aware that your results are not going to transition from bad to good instantaneously. Taking ownership of the upgrades will take time and patience. Get the set up correct, use the wrists properly and shallow the angle of attack with good chest rotation. Now we're talking!

If you'd like to learn more about improving your wedge play check out the Wedge Project.

 

 

Knowledge to Help You Spin Your Wedges

When it comes to wedge shots, spin has always been somewhat mystical. Why will one shot check like crazy while most shots seem to want to scamper well beyond the pin?

This is a little experiment I do in all my Three Day Golf Schools to illustrate a few of the important factors that influence spin rates...

This video clearly illustrates the role of water, grass, a premium golf ball and a clean clubface - the big factors that influence friction between face and ball and ultimately, spin.

As a golfer you are fully responsible for how the sole of the club interacts with the ground while you are only partially responsible for how the face interacts with the golf ball. Understanding factors that serve to decrease friction will only help you from trying to fix a motion that isn't broken.

While it is important to realize that we don't need maximum spin in order to pitch well, we do need ENOUGH spin. To generate more RPM's use a professional grade wedge, replace it as often as needed, keep the face clean and dry and use a premium golf ball. Of course hitting from a tight, dry fairway would be nice too, but we cannot always control that one...

For more on wedge spin and improved wedge play see:

The Wedge Project

Spinning the Wedges - Friction

 

 

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.