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Amen Corner: It’s all about the angle on a downhill chip

  • It's all about the angling when successfully hitting a downhill chip shot. (Courtesy photograph)



Special to the Valley News
Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Of all the shots that we hit in golf, a chip shot is the easiest when it comes to hitting a golf ball on the sweet spot. However, when you are on a slope facing a downhill chip, the difficulty of hitting the center of club face increases — and so are the chances of the ball scurrying across the green.

The single greatest nemesis for the downhill chip shot is the club head hitting ground before the golf ball, causing the leading edge of the club to hit the ball and blading it across the green.

The ground behind the ball on a downhill chip shot typically sneaks up on the golfer because it is higher than a level surface. We need to combat this by swinging the club head down the slope for as long as possible.

The first step to conquering this shot is to set up correctly. You should use a club with more loft, like a sand wedge or lob wedge, as the ball will fly lower off a downhill lie. Your stance should be narrow for most of these shots; however, a little wider stance can help balance the more severe the slope.

Put the ball in the back of your stance also combats the higher slope behind the ball. As you hold the club, you want to adjust your shoulders so they are perpendicular to the slope. This will encourage the club to travel along the angle of the slope and prevent the club from hitting behind the ball.

Grip down on the club to make it shorter and give you more control, and push the grip handle forward toward the target, so your hands are ahead of the club head, but not too much. This will encourage the leading edge to hit under the ball.

When it comes time to actually swing the club, keep the handle of the club forward, abbreviate your follow-through and remember to swing the club head down the slope.

Voila! There you have it. Conquer a downhill chip shot with more loft, the ball back in your stance, your level shoulders, the handle forward and swing along the slope.

Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.