We are asked all the time about pitching the ball, chipping the ball and the short game in general. I always tell everybody, the swing, whether it is the putter, a wedge shot, a pitch shot of a sand shot is still just a miniature of the full swing. Obviously the whole point is to square the club to the ball, you can't hit it with angles.
We have always talked about the triangle in the swing when you set up, and we talk about in a little pitch shot or chip shot it can be knee high to knee high (backswing to follow-through), it can be waist high to waist high, or in more of a lob shot it can be head high to head high. But it is still a matter of starting with a triangle, both elbows are down when you take it back and both elbows are down when you take it through.
If we do that correctly then there is just a little shift to the right and then a little shift to the left. I really believe that when you pitch or chip the ball you have to have motion. I see a lot of people talk about staying on your left side and creating angles, but all you can do from there is pull up and hit up across the ball.
There has to be motion and the best way I talk to people about chipping is to ask them if I were to throw a ball and toss it over to any one of the flags over on that green what would I do? I would move a little to my right and then a little to my left. I would never stand still and just toss the ball with my arm because I could never feel distance. So the triangle in the swing can be knee high to knee high, waist high to waist high, I go back and forth based on how hard I have to hit the shot, or make the tossing motion.
The other thing we try to explain to people is that when we set up to a golf ball with our triangle we are always measuring to the bottom of the ball. If we keep that triangle and the swing is just little triangle swings with the club in the center and just going back and forth, you are always going to just hit the bottom of the ball and that is what lifts the ball and squares the club to the ball.
When I bring the club back to address from my follow-through we have the same triangle at both positions, so that the club never creates an angle. The whole thing in golf on any shot is that you can never create an angle and hit an golf ball solid. As long as we have the triangle we can always hit the ball solid.
I have a little drill I give people, start with the triangle and take your index finger of your lower hand and put it down the shaft.
- Then hit a couple of shots and just point to your target.
- Pretty soon you will find out that even in a chip shot you release the club, you never pull the club; that would not point to your target.
- Then if I just moved my finger back to my normal grip the knuckle on the finger would be pointing to the target.
I made an underhanded tossing motion I would throw the ball with my finger to the target. Most people do not have any idea where their target is. They will stand up there and pull up and across and open the blade and think they are going to their target. Keeping your triangle intact and getting your knuckle pointed at the target is the right direction.