Applying the 6-8-10 formula:
The golden rule in chipping is: Fly the ball as little as possible and roll the ball as much as possible.
With that in mind, it is important to understand the air-time/ground-time ratios of shots hit with different clubs. The selection of the correct club is vital. You can chip with anything from a 3-iron to a sand wedge depending on the situation, but you must know the following formulas (also illustrated in chart above) to decide which club is required.
When you chip with a 10-iron (the pitching wedge), the ball will fly half the distance to the hole and roll half the distance. When you chip with an 8-iron the ball will fly 1/3 of the distance and roll 2/3. When you chip with a 6-iron the ball will fly 1/4 of the distance and roll 3/4.
These formulas are based on a normal paced, level green (a situation we don't often find on the course), so if you are going uphill you would need to go up one club, and downhill requires going down one club. If the green is fast you again will need to go down one club and if the green is slow you will go up one club. I know this may sound confusing at first, but once you understand the basic formula, it really is just common sense.
Always try to land the ball about 3 feet onto the putting surface and let the ball roll the rest of the way.
KEEPING A SOLID LEFT WRIST
The most important aspect of chipping (besides choosing the right club) is to make sure that the left wrist (right wrist for left-handers) does not break down during the chipping motion. The moment the wrist breaks down two things happen:
- The loft on the club changes, therefore changing the trajectory which in turn affects the roll of the ball. Inconsistent distances will result.
- The arm breaks down as well, causing bladed shots that go screaming across the green.
To ensure that neither of these things happen, work on keeping your arm straight and your wrist firm during the shot. If you find this difficult to achieve in practice try this: Take a thick rubber band and place it around your wrist. Slide the butt end of the club under the elastic band, keeping the butt end of the club close to the wrist. This will give you the correct feel when chipping the ball.
If you wish to lower your handicap, miss a few sessions on the driving range, and head for the chipping green instead. You'll love the results to your game - and your opponents won't!