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Amen Corner: Proper Technique for Executing Chip Shots Is a Total Set-Up

  • Proper set-up for a chip shot includes leaning forward before even beginning the backswing.<br/>Courtesy photograph

    Proper set-up for a chip shot includes leaning forward before even beginning the backswing.
    Courtesy photograph

  • Proper set-up for a chip shot includes leaning forward before even beginning the backswing.<br/>Courtesy photograph
Peter Harris

Peter Harris

What does the term “set-up” mean in golf?

Your set-up in golf is how your position your body and the ball before you actually start swinging the golf club for the type of shot you’re trying to pull off. It’s very, very important.

The set-up in golf reminds me of baking a cake. When baking, you must use the exact ingredients in the recipe or your cake will not rise and not taste good. You can not confuse baking soda with baking powder, as I once learned the hard way.

Let’s talk about the set-up for a chip or pitch shot, where the goal is to hit the ball in the air for a little bit and have it land on the green and roll to the pin.

In order to lift the ball in the air, the club head must hit the ball first, then enter or brush the grass. The loft to the club does its thing. If you hit too much grass first you won’t get good contact, and if you hit too much ball first — and not enough turf — you can’t control the ball.

The contact point where the club meets the ball and grass is very important and a key ingredient to a consistent chip or pitch shot.

The set-up for a chip or pitch shot is all designed around giving you the best chance to deliver the club at the right contact point, and it all starts with the lower body.

You hear instructors tell you to keep your weight on your left leg all the time for chips and pitches, but why? It’s all about the contact point.

In order to avoid hitting a fat shot, your weight must already be on your left leg before the club reaches the ball. By presetting your weight left, you’re basically positioning your lower body just like it would look at impact during a full swing.

The next step when cooking up a chip or pitch shot is to get the buttons of your shirt in front of the golf ball at address. Why is this important? It helps with the contact point. When your sternum is in front of the ball, it ensures the club will be delivered on a steep angle of attack, allowing the club head to meet the ball first before entering the turf.

Finally, gripping the club a little lower on the handle will help you get more on top of the ball for a more solid strike.

There you have the ingredients for setting up your body to a chip or pitch shot. Turn the oven on and take your time and when mixing everything together. It’s a piece of cake.

Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon.