5 ways to chip against the grain with confidence
Tour pros play a game with which most of us are unfamiliar, but every now and then they look relatable.
Take, for instance, this past Sunday afternoon at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, at Kapalua, where Collin Morikawa left his second shot short on the uphill par-5 15th hole.
From the broadcast tower, Paul Azinger signaled the alarm about the testy third shot Morikawa faced, with his ball lying against the grain.
Sure enough, Morikawa chunked it.
Raise your hand if you’ve done the same.
At one point or another, grabby lies around the green get all of us. But there are ways to execute them cleanly. Here are 5 tips for chipping against the grain.
1. Settle on the type of shot you want to hit
Not all chips are created equal. Some are lofted and land softly. Others take off lower and run out. And, of course, there are many iterations in between. First things first, get a clear picture in your mind of the shot you want to hit. That decision will determine the club you pull and the technique you use.
2. Brush the grass on practice swings
Your practice swings are harbingers of things to come. If yours are stubbing into the ground or taking up turf, you’re likely coming down too steeply. You want the feeling that you’re brushing the grass as you come through.
3. Use sand sedge for modest loft and roll out
If you’re trying to a hit a shot with a bit of loft and a little rollout, sand wedge is the play. When amateurs chunk this shot they often think they’re decelerating when really they’re coming down too steeply and digging the club into the grass. To protect against this, move the ball slightly forward in your stance, with your weight centered and your stance slightly narrowed to aid in body rotation through the shot. From this position, the sole of the club will be gliding through the turf on the way to impact, giving the grain less chance to grab the leading edge.
4. Ball farther forward for a higher shot
If you’re looking to loft it high and land it softly, swap your sand wedge for a lob wedge and place the ball a bit farther forward in your stand, with your weight slightly shifted slightly toward your front foot. To guard against digging the club into the ground, take a shallower approach to the ball, lower on the takeaway and lower as you come toward impact. You should feel always as if you’re brushing the grass.
5. Less loft for more roll out
For a lower shot with more rollout, I like using a lower lofted club, like an 8-iron. Raise the handle so the club stands more on the toe. That way there will be less club for the grass to grab. With your stance narrow and the ball centered or one ball back of center, strike the shot with something like a putting action.