Matt Kuchar: Let conditions dictate your technique.
When it comes to chipping, you might have been told to hit down on the ball with the handle leaning towards the target at impact. Chipping this way might allow you to hit it solid, but I bet you’ll struggle controlling where the ball ends up.
Instead, what I do is produce a wide swing bottom, with the club gliding along the turf and into the ball – instead of crashing down on it. This allows my club to strike the turf, yet still contact the ball low on the clubface. That’s key to producing loft and spin, and you need both to get the ball to stop where you want it to.
When I’m chipping from closely mowed areas, I know I can put good spin on the ball to stop it using my standard chipping technique – rotating my body towards the target like you see here [above]. The mistake is to get a little wristy through impact and catch the ball on the upswing. Even if you approached it on a shallow angle, you’ll likely blade the shot if the club moves upward through impact.
When I’m chipping out of the rough, I can’t produce the same amount of spin because the club comes in contact with more grass. That means I have to use loft to get the ball to stop quickly. To pop the ball up, I simply make a bigger swing. Again, the club slides along the grass, but the bigger swing creates more swing speed, which lets the ball roll up the clubface, float in the air and land softly
Put Yourself In A Tough Spot To Chip Like Kuch
“I know a lot of amateurs are concerned with controlling distance when they chip, but that’s putting the cart before the horse for most of them,” says Chris O’Connell, Matt Kuchar’s swing coach. Instead, O’Connell says focus on crisp contact. “Think of it this way: If you can’t master contact, then there’s no way of knowing how much energy you need to hit the ball a specific distance.” The first thing to practise is making your swing bottom as wide as Kuchar’s. Let the clubhead glide along the turf even after it strikes the ball. “Come in wide and stay wide,” O’Connell says. Once you can do that routinely, it’s time to vary conditions. The reason Matt Kuchar is one of the game’s best chippers is because he practises from all types of lies. “Hewants to be challenged,” O’Connell says. “He likes to find an area where guys are tearing up the turf and he’s short-sided [little room between his ball and the pin]. From there he wants clean contact with the ball without disturbing the ground, to land it on the green, and spin it enough to keep it short of the hole.”
The point? Prepare for the worst lies you might face on the course.
The others will seem easy.
Matt Kuchar ranked second in scrambling from the rough in 2017, saving par or better 68.5 percent of the time.
– with Ron Kaspriske