I have said before that practicing is often the most neglected part of our game. But our short game is probably the most neglected part of our practicing!

We have all heard this before, practicing the short game is very important, so I would like to state it again, practicing the short game is very important. Did you get that ? practicing the short game is very important!

So what exactly is the short game? Generally the short game is considered to be shots that we play from around the green or when we are on the green. There are many different types of short shots, chipping, pitching, sand shots, lob shots, bump shots, putting, bite shots, plugged shots, flop shots, run shots, cut up shots, lag shots, touch shots etc.

I see four distinct short shots, putting, chipping, sand shots and pitching. All of the other shots are modifications of the above four. I want to focus on one of these four shots, the chip shot. What is a chip shot, and how does it differ from a pitch shot?

1. Pitch shots are longer shots than chip shots. A chip shot is played when you are just off the green (from a few inches up to about 15-20 feet).

2. Pitch shots are usually played when you have to hit your ball over something to get it to the hole. Chipping keeps the ball very close to the ground.

3. Pitch shots stop fairly quickly when they land on the green. Chip shots run along the ground for about 75% of the length of the shot.

4. Pitch shots are played with a pitching wedge, lob wedge or sand wedge. Chip shots are played with ANY club up to a #9 iron.

Pitching wedges can be used for chipping, but I prefer not to use this club for chipping simply because I have to swing it back too far to get the ball to the hole, due to the high degree of loft.

I do not recommend

Playing a chip shot when there is a bunker or a hazard between your ball and the flagstick.
Hitting a pitch shot when you only have the apron (short cut grass) between your ball and the flagstick.

All short shots are “feel shots” , the goal with a short shot is to get it close to the hole or in. This is done most effectively by “feeling” the shot in your hands. A good demonstration of this is to hold a coin in your throwing hand, place a cup or glass on the ground about 6 – 8 feet from you, and then with an under arm toss, throw the coin into the cup.

Did you “feel” the throw through your hand and maybe fingers? Did you hold the coin very tightly, or very lightly? Were your muscles hard or soft? Throw another coin hold it tightly, harden your muscles. What produced more feel and control? Holding it tightly or holding it softly?

Now visit to the chipping green and practice your chipping, see if you are holding the club tightly or softly. How softly you can hold the club? Play some chip shots with a light grip. Then play some shots with the tight grip, experience the difference between the two. It is easier to feel the shot when you have a light grip than tight grip.

Notable Quotes

“The practice ground is an evil place. Its full of so called coaches waiting to pounce. You can see them waiting to dish their mumbo jumbo.” Ernie Els

“The more I practice the luckier I get.” Jerry Barber

“Sometimes I wonder about practice. I’ve hit about 70,000 golf balls in the last four years, and some days I still play like an amateur.” Hubert Green

“There is nothing natural about the golf swing.” Ben Hogan , after being told he had a natural golf swing.

“Don’t tempt me you simpleton.” Tommy Armour, to an irate student complaining to Armour about his shooting at squirrels during practice. The student said, “when will you stop that and take care of me?”