This simple trajectory drill will help you save shots around the green
Chipping is an essential skill to master if you’re looking to improve your overall game, and experimenting with different trajectories will help you hone your feel around the green as you shave strokes off each round. If you’re looking for a fun way to practice different trajectories, I have a great drill for you. All you need are 2-5 alignment sticks, golf balls, and a wedge.
First, choose a spot to practice your chip shots from, and make sure you have enough space behind you to set up a few more shot stations, kind of like a ladder drill. Take the first alignment stick, push it into the ground and bend it to match a low trajectory. Place another stick near the same spot, but tilt this one to represent a slightly higher trajectory. Repeat this process with sticks 3, 4 and 5.
When your station is set, you can practice hitting all trajectories or decide which one is most appropriate based on the shot you’re facing. To do this, calculate how much fringe to carry, how much green you have between the fringe and the hole, the amount of slope, speed of the greens, and your confidence in your ability to hit the shot. Once you have determined which stick trajectory that you will try to match, stay under, or stay between, then you need to consider the necessary factors to hit that shot, which include club choice, club face, ball position, length of the swing (depending on the amount of carry/roll you’re going for), and swing speed.
If that all sounds overwhelming, don’t worry — it’s not! Here’s an example: Let’s say I decide to choose stick 1, which represents the lowest trajectory. That means my goal is to keep the ball lower than the height of stick 1. I will choose my 56-degree wedge, use a square clubface, place the ball back in my stance, use a relatively short swing on either side, and a slower swing speed. Observe how the ball jumps off the clubface on each shot you attempt, then adjust the length of swing or speed to alter the results.
Now, let’s say you decide to go with a trajectory between stick 3 and stick 4. This will require a higher-trajectory shot, I will choose my 60-degree wedge (or my highest lofted wedge), use an open club face, place the ball in the center or forward of center in my stance, use a relatively short backswing with a longer finish, and a medium to fast speed. Keep in mind that there are multiple combinations of swing lengths to create this shot trajectory.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! As you work on these trajectories, you will find that your short game will improve immensely. Questions? Be sure to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to get back to you.
Georgette Rolle is the head professional at Baha Mar in the Bahamas, as well as the lead instructor at Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy.