Darth Vader – The Skinny Chip Shot

Darth VaderThe Force is not with me and I’ve been trying to clear my head lately on an area of my game I used to consider a strength (chipping) but the proverbial stew of techniques, approaches, new wedges, and adjustments for Myrtle Beach is staring to take on Death Star proportions.  I am tumbling head over heels around the greens, like a big ball of matter through outer space, with giant chunks of confidence falling off at inopportune moments.   Looking for some stability fast.  Here’s how the mess started.

I’ve chipped my best when I work with one technique and can laser focus my attention on a specific landing spot.  For some reason, this method has left me coming up short on all chips and I don’t know why.  Late last season, a skinny chip started creeping in to my repertoire, mostly with my old 56 and now with my new 58 and the root cause is a mystery as well.  I’m working with three new Cleveland wedges, which I use very successfully in practice, but can’t seem to transition to game conditions.  Third, I’m trying to relearn a low spinning shot I need off the tight Bermuda surfaces around the greens in Myrtle Beach.  I used to hit this great with my old 56 and even when I clipped it skinny, it would fly very low and have a tremendous amount of spin, and would bite hard and sit down instantly.    There is no deep rough in MB but that’s all I’m playing out of in our plush courses around the DC area.  I can’t find a comfortable technique on this play.

Finally, I’ve got two techniques in my head and cannot reconcile.  The first is the Stan Utley approach of squaring everything up and making a concentrated pivot on every chip.  The second is the Michael Breed drill of identifying a percentage of distance you want to fly your chips to the hole (say 40%) and then identifying different clubs that will take you different distances.  I did have some success blending the two in my post round practice session, but during play, was dreadfully inconsistent.

Anyone with some surefire chipping techniques from good greenside lies, or on tight Bermuda surfaces, please pass them along.  KISS please, thanks!

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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5 Responses to Darth Vader – The Skinny Chip Shot

  1. Ian Hardie says:

    Hey Brian,

    I have had similar problems to yours for the past three years, so much so that I have been doing a lot of research into the causes in an effort to find a real cure as opposed to short term fixes through tips. If you have a few minutes some time I would appreciate if you could take a look at this website: http://golfyipstudy.wordpress.com/ and do the chipping survey.

    From the data I have gathered so far the first thing I would suggest is that practicing your way through it may not help – as it looks to be one of the main causes of the problem.

    You’ll find a bunch more useful info about it on the website

    Play well

    Ian

  2. Brian Penn says:

    Ian, I took your survey and am inclined to think my issue is technique related and stems from fighting elbow tendonitis and an inability to practice. When I have confidence in my technique, usually my chipping is fairly sharp. I think this will work itself out as my elbow heals but the injury is quite stubborn. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I would love to help you Brian but I have been battling the chip yips myself and when I come up with a solution and I will you will be the first to know.

    • Brian Penn says:

      Vet, apologize for the verbose response in advance but I think I have it solved. Again, my two problems were an inability to hit my landing spot (always coming up short) and the occasional bladed chip, usually with a 56 or 58 that scurried over the green. The culprit was a change in technique I adopted after reading the Stan Utley short game book (https://brianpenn.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/book-review-the-art-of-the-short-game-by-stan-utley/)

      I validated a fix in practice yesterday and then on the course today and chipped some beauties with nothing skinny. The change was mental and physical. On the technique, I started making a more pendulum stroke and kept my downswing and backswing speed the same. Previously was stabbing at the ball in an attempt to hit it solid. The change required a longer backswing and follow through but the consistency of contact and roll immediately returned. On the mental block, I took a Michael Breed tip on The Fix I saw the other day and put it in play. Basically, you divide the distance to the hole into 10 yard lines, like on a football field. For flat chips, land on the 30 yard line and rollout. For uphill land on the 40 yard line. You adjust for green speed, grain, etc. Viewing it in this perspective allowed me to chip it far enough to get it to the hole. I don’t know why this change registered with my brain, but it did.

      Hope either of these may be of use for you, although I’m not sure you were suffering from the same issues as me. Thanks!

  4. Sorry Brian, can not help you with that problem, in fact I have it myself. I am either great all day or totally hopeless all day. Ho Hum

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