When a pupil comes to me with a complaint of bad chipping, invariably I find that his trouble is scooping. He is—and he is seldom aware of it—trying to help the ball up with his hands instead of relying on the loft of the club. In these cases I tell the player to do one simple thing: Stab the ground with your club.
I have found that most pupils fail to grasp a pro's meaning when he tells them to hit down on the ball or to hit with a down-stroke. They seem to get the picture much more clearly when you tell them to stab the ground. Of course, I emphasize other points about chipping. I urge an open stance, with the feet, hips and shoulders turned toward the hole. This is vitally important, for the hands must lead the clubhead through. The hands have to lead in order to hit down. If the stance is not open, the ball will go to the right of the target. An open stance and leading hands give the ball direction. I add only one more caution: Strike the lower half of the ball.
It is one of the small joys of teaching golf to watch the surprised look on the pupil's face as his ball rises into a nice arc toward the flag. He remembers the advice of stabbing the ground for a long time. It has worked for me on pupil after pupil, and they come back to report that it helps them from good and bad lies alike.
from PHIL PERKINS, Highland Park Golf Course, Cleveland
Phil Perkins demonstrates stabbing the ground on chip shots
NEXT WEEK: GEORGE CORCORAN ON THE WOMAN'S GRIP