The First Rule of Chipping Out…Is To Chip Out!

By Mickey Soderberg

I spend most of the off-season making long term improvements to my student’s full swings. That leaves the opportunity for me to spend most of my time in season helping them save strokes on the course. During that time a client is bound to find themselves in trouble after a tee shot. When they find themselves there, they tend to lose focus and forget that the first and only rule for chipping out is TO CHIP OUT! The hardest part of this tiresome chore may be to put your ego aside, throw pride in the backseat and make the simple play. But is it so simple? Once you do decide to take your medicine, I have some simple keys to rely on for keeping those big numbers off of your scorecard.

1) Decide what you CAN’T DO
When you are trying to get out of the woods, there are usually some simple decisions you may overlook. For example, you need to tell yourself that you can’t go into the tree to the right or go high into the overhanging branches. That means as long as you keep the ball low and left it is a victory. Therefore, err on aiming left and taking a very low lofted club. Shaving a few extra yards off for your next shot is all but meaningless and you would be surprised how easily your “go-to 7 iron” will jump up into those overhanging branches.

2) How to go high and how to go low
There is only one thing that makes the ball go higher or lower…the loft of your club at impact. The easiest way to adjust that factor is by changing the loft on your club. It seems simple, and it is. Most of the time, you will need to stay low managing through the timber. In that case, err on a lower lofted club. No need to put the ball back in the stance or hit down. Just grab that 4 iron, 5 wood or even DRIVER. As long as you stay low and get back to where you have an open shot, you will be OK. If you need to go over a tree or other obstacle, all you need to do is make sure you take enough loft. Adjusting your ball position or changing your swing will just lead to inconsistency. Save all of that trouble and make your normal swing, just err on using a club with a bigger number on the bottom.

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