You’ve got this. You figured your yardage, selected the perfect club, lined it up and you are zoning in on that pin. You are concentrating so hard and have taken all the proper steps that there’s no way you are not going to nestle this little chip right up next to the flag. Heck, you might even drain this puppy! You take your practice swings; nice and smooth just like you’ve been taught. You set up, make the perfect stroke just like you planned and hit the ball as solid as you ever have; right in the sweet spot! It lands, bounces and rolls. “Grow teeth!” you yell. “Sit, sit, sit.” Epic fail; your ball rolls right past the pin and to the back of the green.
An Easy Mistake to Make
How did this happen? Very easily actually, because you missed the most important part of executing perfect short game shots. You didn’t pick your landing spot (intermediate target). Had you landed the ball on the right part of the green the ball would have rolled right up to the hole, but instead you flew it too far. You are not alone as this is such an easy mistake and one that is made over and over from beginners to even skilled players who know better. It’s just too easy to focus on the pin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing obviously, since that is your target, but your landing spot should take priority.
Proper Preparation; Just as Important as Good Technique
A good shot relies on a good read and a good target as much as a good swing. The more narrow your target the better. As I said it’s important to keep the pin in your mind’s eye and see it out of your peripheral vision, but picking the best spot for the ball to come down should take priority. Always remember the green is your friend. Use the green to feed your ball to the hole. In reality, very few greens are perfectly flat so there is going to be some sort of slope to contend with. In some cases, it may work against you and make getting the ball close to the hole very difficult (a down slope). In most cases however, there will be just the right break in the green that if you play it smart, you can use it to your advantage.
Picking your landing spot should be an important part of a good pre shot routine. Just like when you are putting, you should take the time to walk up to the green and take a good look. If you’ve got the time you should even circle the hole and take a peek at it from all sides. After you’ve lined it up pick where you think the ball should land. This should be your target of focus. Once you have your landing spot you can then choose your club. Note that until this point you couldn’t choose a club because you need to know how much roll is required. If you need a lot of roll you can choose a lower lofted club to do the job. If you need just a little bit of roll a higher lofted club like a wedge will do the trick. Once you have the appropriate club in your hand be sure to keep focusing and staring down your landing spot. This is the part you need to pay close attention. It’s easy to slip here and start focusing too much on the pin. If you can keep focused on the landing spot and make practice swings that feel like they will get you there, then you are sure to hit the shot you desire.
You are having a hard time controlling your chip shots and getting them close.
To get better control on your chip shots pick an intermediate target where you can land the ball and get the appropriate amount of roll to nestle up close to the hole. Make sure to read the green and go through your routine the same as you would if you were putting. Once you’ve lined it up and picked your landing spot select the best club for the amount of loft and roll that you desire. Stay focused on your landing spot throughout your practice swings. Be sure to make quality practice swings that are an exact rehearsal of the swing you intend to make. Keep focus on the landing spot, not on the pin.