Southern Hills is the host of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship this week. This historic layout recently had a significant renovation at the hands of Gil Hanse— the same man who is designing one of the championship courses at the PGA of America’s new homesite in Frisco, Texas.
With the renovation some things have changed. Most of the time when we approach a new course, we usually only consider the aesthetic changes. It turns out, as part of the renovation, a number of chipping areas were added to the golf course. In these swales and hollows surrounding the greens are brand new very closely mown areas. The grass in these areas is freshly planted. Players at this level notice this and realize the difficulty of hitting precise shorts shots off these super tight and sometimes grainy lies.
In speaking with a couple PGA Members playing this week, they noticed many of the players trying various chipping methods. One player that was mentioned was Miguel Angel Jimenez. In preparing for the tournament, he was trying different clubs to “chip” with. One in particular was a high lofted fairway metal. Other players were seen practicing with hybrids. For the average golfer, this is an excellent method for turning a very difficult short game situation into a successful one.
Grain is a description of the direction the tight grass lays down. Go with or across the grain and the club slides right over the grass.
Chip into the grain and good luck. The front edge of the club will grab and stop once it hits the ground. If you have felt this before and weren’t sure why, that’s the reason. If you need help with chipping into the grain or chipping in general here’s a simple solution.
Take out a five wood or a 3,4 hybrid. Rather than gripping the club normally toward the end, place your hands down the shaft. Your bottom hand should be near the end of the grip just above the shaft. Making the club a little shorter will help significantly with control. Next, set up as if you were going to hit a putt. Feet under the shoulders, not wider and allow your body to hang from your spine as if you were using the flatstick.
Strike the ball using your putting motion. No wrist action, make sure the club swings just like your flatstick. Take a couple practice swings along the ground next to the ball. The grass wants to fight against you, so this club is perfect to glide along top. The little loft it has will raise the flight of the ball just enough to get above the grass allowing it to glide across the longer chipping area turf toward your target.
Start by practicing this new method from different distances. Five feet off the edge of the green, ten feet off and twenty feet off. Soon you’ll have a reliable feel for how the ball rolls out. With enough repetition, you will soon have a new successful short game tool. One any “Mechanic” would be jealous to have as well.
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.