Targeting Your Chip Shot

By Jason Suedhof

IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy teacher

Regardless of how hard you work on your full swing, it is essential to have a good short game. While playing a round of golf, it is likely you will miss greens and need to get up and down. When this occurs, having a good set up, a sense of feel for distance, and some creativity will allow you to be more successful.

Here are some fundamental guidelines to help you begin with a good set up. Your stance should be slightly open with your feet narrow. The ball should be positioned back and right of center. To help create a descending blow to the ball, put both your weight and the handle of the club forward. Be sure to have a slightly open face to correspond with your stance and also to allow the bounce of the club to slide on the turf as opposed to digging.

A great drill to try to create distance control with each club is what we call the “Ladder Drill” at the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy. Place four clubs on the ground about a yard apart from each other in the shape of a ladder. Start with your most lofted club and try to land your shot between each club. To make it more challenging, start over if you miss. Work all the way up your club compilation until you reach your six iron. Be sure to watch the release of each shot to see how far the ball goes. Also, pay close attention to the reaction of the ball. Does it check or release? Does it react differently with the grain of the green? All of these factors come into play when it matters most.

After you have created a good feel for the distance, here is another drill for aiming at your true target – the hole. Place a ball mark or coin on the ground as your intermediate target. This is where you want the ball to land. Try to hit your ball mark with the correct club selection. If you see that the ball is short or long of the target but close to your ball mark, you need to try a different club. Be sure to pick targets with different slopes and distances. This will be the real test of how your practice has helped.

These three factors can be very influential in your short game. First, be sure to focus on your fundamentals to ensure proper set up. Next, practice controlling your distance with the “ladder drill.” Finally, practice with an intermediate target for creativity and to obtain greater distance control.

Including these drills in your regular practice is sure to improve your short game. Good luck and have fun!

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