A Simple Remedy to the Challenge of Chipping from a Tight Lie
By Keith Stewart, PGA
The golf season continues to provide endless options for coaching content. As we consider the options it is important for us as PGA Coaches to understand golf is not a static game. Many of you play the same if not just a couple golf courses in a year. Even though the test should be similar every round, it just doesn’t turn out that way. An example of this phenomenon is seen during the summer months when the course dries out and lies get super tight.
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For the average amateur and even the touring professional playing short shots around the green can become very difficult this time of year. For some of us, these shots are just as challenging year-round!
If you fear tight lies for short game shots, then this lesson will bring you some relief.
As there is nothing more frustrating than being fifty feet from the flagstick and not being able to get the ball near the hole.
Part of the reason tight lie chips are so difficult is there is no margin for error. The ball sits very close to the ground. We know for getting the ball airborne our club must pass slightly under it and, that’s a difficult play. Some just give up and turn to putting from everywhere. That is an option, but today’s lesson presents another way to tackle this persistent problem.
Great short game players have tremendous imagination. They are willing to think outside the box and use all different clubs for various situations on the course. Chipping with a hybrid or fairway metal is a primary example.
For some, hybrid chipping is too difficult because they cannot control their distance with the trampoline like face.
If you are one of those players who struggle with a hybrid or fairway metal let me present another solution.
The ground can be your friend in short game shots. The sooner you can get the ball on the ground and rolling, the easier it is to predict where it will go, yet most PGA Coaches don’t like the putter because it doesn’t get the ball above the grass enough to consistently allow the player to control their distance. We’ve established hybrids present challenges as well.
Here’s a cool solution, try chipping with a five or six iron.
Start by gripping the club just as you would for a regular chip. Take your stance as if you are chipping and lean your weight to your lead leg. Place the ball in the same position you would for a putt, just ahead of center in your stance. Now make a chipping motion at the ball. For most of you, it will almost feel like an elongated putting stroke.
Very quickly you will notice the ball gets above the grass and moving toward your target. Better yet, because the club pushes the ball along rather than tries to lift it as much as a wedge, your margin for error has been significantly decreased. Practice with either club, for some a seven iron may even be the trick. Start rehearsing this shot with your standard chipping situations. Pretty soon, you’ll notice how versatile this strategy is. It works great trying to overcome steep slopes, odd swales, and long tight shots with little room for error to either side.
We have become so accustomed to watching touring professionals throw the ball up in the air we soon forget that the ground is the simplest strategy. Get to the practice area this weekend and start working on this solution to the tight lie dilemma. Once you become accomplished at pulling it off, you will easily eliminate one of the most common fears on the course.
Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.