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Links Lessons: Ball Position & Chipping

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Article by George Connor, PGA Professional & Two-Time CT Teacher of the Year –


In my years of teaching which now spans almost three decades I have seen a number of good players, solid ball strikers that are bad chippers.  I’m not talking less than stellar, I’m talking really bad.  How can an accomplished ball striker struggle to execute such a seemingly simple motion as a chip?  The first place to look is the set-up.  I see a lot of players that put the ball back in their stance when chipping.  The ball position that gets closer and closer to the back foot causes a number of problems.

  1. Sure a chip shot is intended to be a low trajectory shot that rolls out.  But the ball getting too far back in the stance can take enough loft off the golf club that the player will subconsciously attempt to add loft back into the club during the motion.  This is what leads to the wrists breaking down, a scooping motion that leads to flubbed chips and skulled shots.
  2. The ball way back in the stance creates an inordinate amount of shaft lean.  Regardless of the club, if you lean the shaft towards the target enough the bounce on the bottom of the club disappears.  Now the leading edge of the club becomes a knife.  Once the leading edge breaks the surface the club is going to sink lower and lower into the ground.  Hello “Chili Dip”
  3. Aim will become difficult when the ball position is moved around (see video).  Let’s keep in mind here that Aim and Alignment should be thought of as two separate factors.  Aim and alignment should not be thought of interchangeable words.  Alignment refers to the lines that your body is on.  Where your feet, hips and shoulders are positioned relative to your target line.  Alignment is most important in the sense that it can help or hinder your ability to accurately know where the ball is positioned in your stance.  Ball position is aim.  The golf club will be working on a slight arc as it passes through impact.  Therefore, where the ball is positioned has a lot to do with where the club face is pointing at impact as well as the path that the club is taking at impact.

If you struggle with chipping, whether it is making solid contact or getting the ball consistently on line, check your ball position first!  I always remind students that you need a good set-up in order to benefit from a good swing.  A fundamentally sound golf swing, chipping motion or putting stroke will only work if you have the proper set-up. A poor set-up, bad alignments, ball position out of whack etc will only work if you have an “unconventional” swing.  If you are trying to make a conventional motion, it better be from a conventional set-up.  Now go hit some great chip shots.