Amen corner: Side-hill chip shots can make you feel like a heel

  • The key challenge of a side-hill chip is keeping the heel of the club from hitting the ground first and the ball second. (Courtesy photograph)

Special to the Valley News
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Last week, we discussed the downhill chip or pitch shot, which requires you to swing the club along the angle of the slope by setting up on your downhill leg with your spine perpendicular and shoulders parallel to the slope. When you deliver the club, you want to hit the ball with a flat left wrist at impact. All of this ensures a successful chip.

(Hint: That summary is my version of a correction from last week. Wink, wink.)

This week, let’s discuss the side-hill pitch shot, with the ball below your feet. It’s a sweet shot when done correctly.

When the ball is below your feet on a chip shot, the heel of the club will tend to strike the ground first, causing all sorts of trouble.

The most common misses are when the heel of the club strikes the ground first and the leading edge of the club blades the ball across the green. Another miss is when the heel strikes the ground first, closing the club face and pulling the ball left.

To help combat the club’s heel from taking over, move a little closer to the ball. This will force the club more upright and give you more of the club’s sole to interact with the ground.

Depending of the severity of the slope, you may have to sit — or move your rear end — a little closer to the ground. The helps the club meet the low point of the ground.

Also, as you swing the club toward the ball, it will be important to maintain your posture, or forward bend. The tendency is to stand up to counterbalance the slope, preventing the club from getting under the ball.

Finally, because you’re on a slope and it’s difficult to maintain balance, you won’t be able to move your legs dynamically, forcing more of a hands-and-arms swing. As a result, these shots will require a little more swing of the club head to deliver the energy and create the distance you want.

It’s a delicate shot, like cutting the first piece out of a brownie pan. Sometimes it’s clean, and sometimes it crumbles. When done correctly, it’s oh so sweet. Good luck!

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.