All the great chippers on tour return the shaft to the same position at impact as it was at address. Most of the top players don’t have much forward lean, and even the ones who do definitely return the shaft to the same point at impact – they certainly don’t add any more angle. This allows them to play a wider variety of shots. If you start leaning the shaft, you basically take all the technology and advances with wedges over the years out of the equation. With a forward lean, you lose all the bounce and you have a sharp leading edge that digs into the ground. From that point, you can only hit one type of shot, and your chances of thinning and duffing are high as your contact has to be so precise.
I see a lot of amateurs who still do what I call ‘old-school’ chipping – things like putting the ball back in their stance, leaning the shaft forward, keeping everything still and almost doing a one-piece chip. Yes, that works, and there have been people over the years who’ve been very good chippers doing that, but it means you can only hit one type of shot. It’s not suited to the modern game. You need more than one shot in your arsenal.
The Correct Set-Up Position
If you want to have a versatile short game you need to be able to adapt. To do that, you should be neutral in set-up, with a neutral shaft and a centered ball position, using the natural loft of the club. Obviously most amateurs don’t have the time to practice too much, so when they have a tricky chip, they put the ball back in their stance because they feel more confident about hitting it first that way. It’s a safe option, but some people adopt that technique from every position and often there’s just no way of getting the ball close.
Good Tour Role Models
Thomas Bjorn is one of the best chippers around. He’s fantastic – he’s very solid and he has all the shots. If you watch him, he returns the club very much back to the neutral position at the strike point. A lot of guys on tour nowadays understand that’s the way forward. Brett Rumford is the guy I’d probably say has the best short game on the European Tour. He does all the basics so well, but he also understands more complex issues, like how the grain of the grass is going to interact with the club and what impact that will have. He’s very knowledgeable about that whole area and he has fantastic control and rhythm.
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