Golf Tips - Chipping, Pitching, Bunker Play and Putting

By Thomas Tetrault, PGA Pro

In a round of golf, 70% of your shots are hit from 120 yards or closer. Every one who plays golf does not possess the physical ability to hit 250 yard drives, but does have the ability to hit the ball 120 yards. To be a good short game player you must practice. Unlike the full swing, the short game is more artistry than mechanics. The object is to get the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes, not to look pretty doing it. The short game includes pitching, chipping, bunker play and putting.

Chipping and Pitching: Many golfers confuse chipping and pitching as the same. They are not. Pitching has more air time than ground time; a chip has less air time than ground time. Many players use one or the other all the time.

When should you chip or pitch? A chip should be used when the ball is near the green but cannot be putted. The pitch is used when you have to loft a ball over a bunker, or the grass is too deep to chip it out. A mistake many players have is that they always chip with the same club. Vary your club selection depending on the distance of the chip.

Remember: Always practice a shot before you use it on the course, and use your imagination.

Bunker Play: Many golfers are defeated before they attempt a sand shot because they fear them. Make bunkers your friend, not an enemy. With proper technique and practice I guarantee you will enjoy being in the sand instead of heavy rough.

When in a bunker you must:

  • establish firm footing
  • take open stance
  • open the clubface
  • weight distributed more to the left side
  • swing the club back and through the same distance
  • hit the sand 2 inches behind the ball
  • don't let the clubface close
  • accelerate through the ball

Remember: Sand is your ally, not your foe.

Putting: If you have ever watched golf on TV, you have seen many different putting styles. If you have seen Mike Hulbert, you have even seen one-handed putting. I would not recommend this for anyone, but the point is to do whatever feels comfortable and enables you to get the ball in the hole consistently. However, there are some fundamentals that will help you to consistently putt well:

  • eye over the ball
  • set the putter square to the target
  • keep body motion limited
  • accelerate through the ball
  • be comfortable
  • hit the ball in the sweet spot of the putter.

To be a good putter you must feel you can putt. Be confident. Negative thoughts will hurt your putting. *

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