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Oliver Wilson discusses modern chipping techniques

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TOUR INSIDER Game AFP Hone Your Former Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson discusses modern chipping techniques, replicating on-course scenarios and how you can use equipment to your advantage ... 38 HK GOLFER・FEB/MAR 2016 HKGOLFER.COM HK GOLFER・FEB/MAR 2016 39


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ll the great chippers on tour return the shaft to the same position at impact as it was at address. Most of the top players don’t have much forward lean, and even the ones who do definitely return the shaft to the same point at impact – they certainly don’t add any more angle. This allows them to play a wider variety of shots. If you start leaning the shaft, you basically take all the technology and advances with wedges over the years out of the equation. With a forward lean, you lose all the bounce and you have a sharp leading edge that digs into the ground. From that point, you can only hit one type of shot, and your chances of thinning and duffing are high as your contact has to be so precise. A “With a forward lean, you can only hit one type of shot and your contact has to be so precise” Something to Work On The drill I’ve found most useful over the years is taking my right hand off the club. I set up as normal with both hands, but then I actually split them by about an inch and have my right hand very light on the club, or off it. Doing this gives you better feedback and stops you leaning, and it will also help you get a better rhythm. Developing Feel Modern Chipping I see a lot of amateurs who still do what I call ‘old-school’ chipping – things like putting the ball back in their stance, leaning the shaft forward, keeping everything still and almost doing a one-piece chip. Yes, that works, and there have been people over the years who’ve been very good chippers doing that, but it means you can only hit one type of shot. It’s not suited to the modern game. You need more than one shot in your arsenal. The Correct Set-Up Position If you want to have a versatile short game you need to be able to adapt. To do that, you should be neutral in set-up, with a neutral shaft and a centered ball position, using the natural loft of the club. Obviously most amateurs don’t have the time to practice too much, so when they have a tricky chip, they put the ball back in their stance because they feel more confident about hitting it first that way. It’s a safe option, but some people adopt that technique from every position and often there’s just no way of getting the ball close. It’s all practice. You can have fantastic technique and not be any good on the course because you need a bit of feel. It’s all well and good hitting chips from nice lies on the practice green, but when you get on the course, you have a tight lie and you have to hit a flop shot over a bunker, you need feel to get it close. And you generate feel through practice. It’s as simple as that. Don’t just put your ball in nice lies when you’re practicing. Give yourself proper lies and hit proper shots. Vary it up. Put yourself in every situation you might find on the course. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re a great chipper by going to the practice green with a bucket of balls, putting them all in ideal positions and hitting it close quite often. One Size Doesn’t Fit All Good Tour Role Models Getting custom fitted for wedges is just as important as getting fitted for a driver and probably more so, because the lie angle is so important with a wedge, especially a lob wedge. If your lie angle is wrong, you’ll be useless, because you won’t be able to hit the ball straight and you’ll start making all sorts of compensations. We’re all made differently, so don’t just grab a wedge off the shelf. A lot of things look good, but that doesn’t mean they will be good for you. Thomas Bjorn is one of the best chippers around. He’s fantastic – he’s very solid and he has all the shots. If you watch him, he returns the club very much back to the neutral position at the strike point. A lot of guys on tour nowadays understand that’s the way forward. Brett Rumford is the guy I’d probably say has the best short game on the European Tour. He does all the basics so well, but he also understands more complex issues, like how the grain of the grass is going to interact with the club and what impact that will have. He’s very knowledgeable about that whole area and he has fantastic control and rhythm. The Right Club Selection It’s so easy to duff shorter chip shots, particularly those from thick rough when you’re quite close to the flag. When this happens, it’s often because you don’t have enough loft, and subconsciously you don’t want to make the requisite acceleration through the ball. But if you have a lot of loft, you know in your mind you actually have to hit it to get it there. Really think about the type of shot and the club you’re going to use. It’s an easy thing to get right, but also an easy thing to get wrong. At the end of the day, it comes down to making sensible decisions. Wilson bounced back from a period in the doldrums with victory at the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland AFP 40 HK GOLFER・FEB/MAR 2016 HKGOLFER.COM HKGOLFER.COM HK GOLFER・FEB/MAR 2016 41



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