From a golf standpoint, the setting the Clubhouse at Arden Hills creates is visually stimulating. The furniture, TV Screens, Bar, and the Simulators themselves draw the eyes in a very engaging way. Even the swing video analysis software is cool to look at. For all of these reasons, golf in the Clubhouse has centered around the Full Swing and it’s totally understandable; heck, my first time on them I couldn’t wait 10 seconds to hit my driver on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. That said, I’ve heard mumblings that tend to suggest that one cannot learn the short game on the Simulators. To which I would reply, NONSENSE!
The fact is upwards of 70 percent of shots in an average round of golf are played from inside of 100 yards yet, golfers of every level spend the majority of their practice time with the longer clubs. Sitting on the range and pounding drivers and long irons will give any player small dividends. The purpose of long clubs is to simply get the player around the course efficiently (no penalty strokes, lost balls); the purpose of short clubs is to score. Even the best players in the world rarely make a birdie with a 7-iron or longer into the green.
Still, it’s amazing to me that tons of players can wax poetic about Full Swing theories they’ve read and watched, but very few have anything close to a refined approach in the short game. It would be my preference for that dynamic to flip; almost no one can match Dustin Johnson’s physicality with his full swing but there is no excuse for any of us to not match his Short Game. I believe passionately that golfers everywhere lack an approach to the Short Game meaning they simply aren’t sure what to value. Therefore, the next few monthly tips will focus on defining a solid approach.
Chipping, in particular, is probably the most divisive part of the game. People either love it or hate it. Those that hate it can’t understand how it’s possible that anyone could love to chip.
Whenever someone comes to me and starts telling me how a poor a chipper they are, my first instinct is that this person is probably setting up to the ball in a fashion that does not fit a chip.
More often than not, when that player goes to hit his or her first chip in front of me, they do so with a stance that far is too wide. With that width of stance comes a little knee-bend or “squat look.” In other words, the player is creating “power” in the setup on a shot in which the player actually wants “finesse.” The player then gets terribly uncomfortable over the ball, his or her brain confused by the fact that they feel strong but only want the ball to go a short distance.
Just like your swing, your setup is not a “one-size-fits-all” fundamental and should reflect the character of the shot you’re playing. Big swings need a big setup; small swings need a small setup. Setting up properly to a chip shot can be summarized in three words:
NARROW, TALL, AND CLOSE!
Of anything that I hear repeated back to me as something of great benefit to my students, it is those three words. Once your setup matches the shot you’re playing, your comfort level over the ball rises dramatically because your brain feels in harmony with what you’re trying to make the ball to do. If you struggle with chipping and pitching in particular, give Narrow, Tall, and Close a shot and please, stop by the Clubhouse if you have any questions!