This section is devoted to golf short game tips, lessons and drills to help golfers of all skill levels improve their short games. Chipping, pitching, and other short game instruction and advice is all offered here.

Golf Divots are Good

Short Game: Golf Divots are Good

Golf Divots are Good

Short Game: Golf Divots are Good

“…but I’m not a ‘divot taker,’ though.”

“Time to change that,” a teaching PGA pro says.

Are you a “divot taker?” If not — why not? It’s how irons are designed to be used.

Many students come for a lesson and I ask them to warm up with a few 8-iron strokes. Upon completion, I often have commented that I did not see them creating or “taking” any divots into the turf.

Now the casual answer follows something like, “I have never taken divots my whole life,” or they say simply that “I’m not a divot taker.”

This comment is usually said with a measure of self-satisfaction. At that point I may take the club from them (Don’t worry now.), and hit a few shots myself then ask them to notice the divot. Why would one person take a divot and the other not when both of them just used the exact same golf club?

One of us has to be using the club less efficiently. Right? (Sarcasm.)

Okay, so should taking a divot be a choice for golfers who claim that their goals are to improve for the mid- or long-term? Now before we go any further, I wish to acknowledge that golf has produced great champions who developed a swing that rarely created divots. Tom Watson comes to mind as does the late Payne Stewart. But there will always be exceptions to the rule.

I would estimate that more than 90 percent of golfers on the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours take divots with a full swing beginning at a 6-iron all the way down through their wedges. Why? Because — first off — it’s how the iron was designed to be used.

Second, it shows the continuation of the downward journey of the clubhead following impact with the body, arms and club shaft in powerful and correct positions. In other words, it’s correct golf swing form.

My plan is not to delve into the details of how to create a repetitive divot/impact here but to get you to investigate why you may be a “non-divot taker.”

But I can say with some assurance that failure to create a divot with the clubs mentioned above in a full swing is a swing flaw; and, don’t worry, you did not choose it. But you can fix it.

And creating divots matters. When you don’t take a divot, your strike  is less powerful than it could be. It’s also harder to control into a wind, among other things.

So do yourself a favor, take a lesson with your favorite PGA or LPGA professional to discuss and understand the proper divot/impact positions.

And make sure you either replace your divot or fill it with sand and seed.



Chip Shots

Short Game: Chip Shots

Chip Shots

Short Game: Chip Shots

The most important shots in golf may be the chip shot.

Why? Because most players miss the green short, long, left and right. And most of us often need a chip shot before a putt.

Therefore, becoming the best chipper you can be will probably lower your scores faster than mastering any other shot, including the putt.

If you sometimes just “don’t get it” when you receive instructions to improve your chipping, maybe you need a non-golf analogy to help picture what’s being presented. A strong chipping image is to adopt the equivalent of baseballs “check swing” as your chipping technique.

Sure, you’ll still need to understand why the professional is asking you to address the ball back in your stance, leaning some of your weight towards the target and choking down on the club handle. But during the stroke and as you hold your finish, picture baseball’s check swing.

Imagine First Baseman Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins at the plate. The first pitch is high and outside. “Ball one,” the umpire yells. The second pitch looks good coming out of the pitcher’s hand, but at the last moment, Mauer decides that it’s drifting outside of the strike zone and tries to stop his swing in time.

He tries to “check” his swing.

If Mauer used the technique of swinging the end of the bat ahead of the handle, he could never check his swing (And it would be one ugly swing, to boot.) It also would be called a strike every time, but that’s not how the bat is designed to be used anyway, as any red-blooded American baseball fan knows.

The handle of the bat is leading the swing with the end of the bat following. This allows him to avoid having the end of the bat pass the handle before he wants it to.

Now watch a professional golf tournament on television, and look at the top players when chipping. Watch them hold their follow-through, and see if you notice the check swing.

Do you create a check swing when you chip or are you swinging the clubhead only? Does your clubhead pass the handle of the club in your chips?

Do you hold onto your finish to look and see if you made a check swing, or did the umpire call a strike? It’s not a bad analogy.

Do you like practicing, or do you find it boring sometimes? Maybe it seems boring because you are not using your imagination enough. Maybe you should pretend that you’re Joe Mauer (although maybe not so far in the 2014 season) and make that check swing.

I think you will like the umpire’s ball call — and your golf results!