A New Approach to Chipping

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I have what can be perceived as a very important week taking place over the next 6 days. On Sunday I’m headed back out on the course and I’m going to see how all this work I’ve been putting in over the past eight weeks plays out in a real game situation.

I’ve been real hesitant to get back out on the course after my uninspired performances during the winter classic and my outings with Andrew when he came to town. I knew the rounds I played with Andrew were going to be crap so I didn’t beat myself up about it too much, if anything it showed me that the road ahead was a long one and there was going to be a lot practicing over the next several months.

Every free minute I can find is now spent in my garage hitting balls and grooving this new swing. Sometimes I’ll be out there for 30min and others nights, like last night, it’s a couple of hours. Those 30min sessions are fantastic because from the first swing to the last swing everything feels great. They’re not a constant yet, those 30mn sessions and that’s where my 2hr sessions kick in. It’s not all bad though, last night the extra time was spent working on my chipping and my putting, two areas that are in much need of some work.

I’ve been concerned with my short game for a while but it’s been put on the back burner. I haven’t devoted any of my practice time to chipping and putting mainly because I’ve been so focused on getting better with the new swing. As my session have gotten better over the last couple of weeks and with the upcoming round on Sunday I decided it was time to talk with Wade about that portion of my game.

Naturally I was inspired after my talk with Wade, he has an amzaing ability that makes we want to be better, and that led to the extended session last night. On a side note I HAVE to get myself a legit putting green. Hitting 3’ putts on a practice mat is just not going to cut it anymore. If anyone can suggest a putting practice green PLEASE let me know.

Back to the golf,

Wade explained to me early on in the lessons that with the Ballard swing, the swing doesn’t change from club to club. Meaning the swing you put on a ball with your 5i is the same swing you put on the ball with a 9i or a wedge. I never imagined that was possible but now, as I’ve progressed with this swing, it’s so easy see what Wade was talking about.

When we started talking about chipping he said that all the work I’ve put in on the new swing was going to make chipping that much easier. That all relates to the previous paragraph. It’s the same swing. He wasn’t kidding when he said it was the same swing with all the clubs, not only with all the clubs but all the shots with those clubs as well.

The Ballard swing is a level and consistent swing and that is never more prevalent than when you chip. In learning this new swing what has impressed me the most is the simplicity of how the club face stay square to the ball. I’m hitting the center of the club face so solid now I’ve even considered getting some new irons so I no longer have to look at the scratched an beaten up toe ends of my clubs! When he explained to me that the chipping stroke is the same as a normal swing it brought on a moment of relief. I wasn’t going to have to worry about learning a new stance or grip or alignment. It was just simply hitting the ball with my stroke.

My most common swing fault when I chip is hitting it fat or way behind the ball. I either chunk the hell out of it on a fluffy lie or bounce the club off the ground and blade the ball on a tight lie. Wade was almost giddy when he said just wait until you see how much your chipping is going to improve when you approach the shots from now on. He said in fact you’ll never be scared of a tight lie ever again and to prove it he gave me a drill that shocked the hell out of me!

He said grab an old wedge and hit some chip shots from the concrete on your garage floor. What? That was my initial thought? In all honesty though there’s not a tighter lie than that so there was some meaning behind the drill. So I grabbed my old Vokey 58° wedge and said why not. I of course did this after working on my chip shots for a while. Once I felt how simple and effortless chipping was with the new swing I decided to give Wade’s drill a go.

So I have a new chipping drill I’ll be using on a regular basis now. The concrete chipping was a huge eye opener. The swing dictates so much of a squared face as impact and a return to center that chipping on concrete is relatively simple. I was litertly shocked at how well I did on the concrete. Had I tried that 2 months ago there is not doubt in my mind that I would have spent the majority of last night patching some holes in the walls of my garage. I kept hitting shot after shot after shot with amazing success. It just proved to me how much I’ve been overthinking my chipping and how over mechanical I’ve been.

One last thing that Wade mentioned that was really a net story was how Annika Sorenstam has what she calls a Penny Drill. Annika is a disciple of the Ballard swing, her swing coach was tough the swing by Ballard himself and Annika is widely considered one of the best ball striker ever. Wade told me to look for the penny drill on YouTube, so last night as I was winding my day down I found the video. It’s so cool I wanted to share it with you. Check it out:

I’m going to keep practicing every night this week and try to squeez in a range session just to see how my ball flight is going and hopefully come Sunday night I’ll have a decent story to tell. Conestoga hasn’t exactly been nice to me so it’s time  for me to show up there and do something! Let’s hope that Sunday is that day!

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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