How often have you hit a chip shot and said “that felt great”, yet it ended up nowhere near where you expected it to?
Ask yourself: did you have a definite area where you wanted to land the ball, allowing for roll? If you answered ‘no’ then you are missing out on one of the best aspects of golf, the opportunity to learn from each shot you play and then improve with the knowledge you have gained.
The best way to learn is from experience. To get the most out of your practice time, you need to be very specific. Set up a landing area on the practice green and then practice hitting different clubs from the same position into this landing zone. With each club, watch how the ball lands and then watch it until it finishes rolling. By practicing with a landing area, you can better understand how the bounce and roll of the ball will contribute to the end result.
All you need to set up your landing area is four coins. Any coin is fine but if you use twenty-cent or fifty-cent pieces, they are easier to see on the green. Depending on your skill level, start by creating a square with each side around one metre, then practice trying to get each shot to have its first bounce in the box. Once you can consistently land each shot in the box, make the box smaller, even if it is only by 10cm on each side.
The best thing about practicing this way is that you learn so much from each shot. By consistently landing the ball in the box you will discover how to control the length of your swing to achieve the desired distance. Then by varying the clubs you practice with, you will learn how far each shot will go and where best to use these shots on the golf course.
When you take this knowledge onto the course and set a definite landing area, you can evaluate each shot by where your ball lands and where it finishes. If you land the ball short of your target and it finishes short of the hole, then you know the landing area was a good one. The chances are the shot will still have finished in a good spot and you can aim to execute better next time around. If you land in your selected landing area and the ball doesn’t roll to where you thought it would, then you can store this experience.
Next time you have a similar shot you can make the necessary adjustments for success by either shifting the landing area or using a different club.
The biggest adjustment for most people in to have the landing area as your chipping target instead of the hole. This simple target change will improve your consistency and ultimately lower your scores.
Aim to get the most out of each shot. Select your target, watch your ball and learn from the result.