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Breaking 100: Don't lean too far left on chip shots
Created on 1/1/2006 12:00:00 AM

One simple way to take strokes off your scores is to stop misusing the club's leading edge on your pitch and chip shots. Many amateurs chunk or blade these delicate shots simply because they don't use their wedges and short irons the way they were designed. The leading edge tends to dig, whereas the bounce on the bottom of the clubhead lets the club slide.

Don't lean too far left on chip shots

For chipping, you've probably been told to lean toward the target to ensure ball-first contact. True, but angling the shaft too much and turning down the leading edge (above, right) make the swing too steep and cause you to dig. Instead, set up like I am in the left photo. With your weight just slightly forward, you'll allow the club's bounce to slide along the ground and increase your chances of solid contact. All you have to do is make a simple, firm-wristed stroke.

Swing up on the ball
To cure a steep, slicing swing, find an upslope and practice hitting iron shots. The slope will shallow out your swing, and the leading edge will cut a shallow divot.

Read more break
Once a putt falls below the true break line, it has no chance of going in. So err on the side of overestimating the break. That way, even if you don't get the speed perfect, the ball still has a chance of finding the cup. Imagine if you had one putt to win $1 million: To give it every chance to go in, you would definitely keep the ball on the high side.

Death to divots
If you use your wedges correctly on short shots from the fairway or rough, you won't make a divot. Divots coming from such short swings indicate an overly steep path.

Hit pitch shots like bunker shots
As in chipping, a lot of amateurs play pitches with the ball too far back, causing the leading edge to dig at impact. The pitch is like the sand shot, except you don't swing as hard. Play the ball about middle, and keep your weight slightly forward. The club's bounce should graze the grass the way it slides under the ball in the sand. This is more forgiving than playing the ball back, because the club can actually hit the ground behind the ball and still slide through (inset).

Golf Digest January 2006


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