A lot of people have a favourite club. They think if they have missed the green, they can just automatically go to their gap wedge or pitching wedge.
Learning to use one club is great to create creativity for top players - but I think everyone would find the short game easier if they had one swing and just changed the club.
The best analogy I’ve heard about it was that if you were doing some DIY and had to drill a hole in the wall, you would use a certain size of drill to make the hole.
If you were trying to make different sizes of hole, the easiest thing to do would be to change the drill bit, and not try and work a bigger hole in the wall. It’s the same principle with chipping.
Most people have a few lengths of swing that they find easy to do. So, if you can repeat that length of swing, the easiest way to chip is just to change the club.
1. Lift the heel off the ground
If you want to chip in the most consistent way, you want to set up more like a putt. If you get the toe down into the ground, you’re going to stop the heel digging in. This is what most people struggle with. That’s why they duff shots. The club now will strike the turf better. And getting the shaft up and into the palm of your hands gives you that putting action.
You will get a much better flow with your chip shots if you adopt this technique. You could effectively stand there all day and hit that shot, so your consistency will definitely improve.
2. How to grip it
If you want to add speed, you want to put the club in the fingers as much as possible. For drives and lob shots, you want to generate speed. Getting the grip right into your fingers helps with that. For chip shots, though, you don’t want to add speed; you want feel.
Chipping is relatively close to putting and, with putting, you want the club in the palm of your hands. You should also grip down for more control. The putter shaft would follow the same angles as the forearm.
3. Use all your clubs
Every single club in the bag has a different carry-to-roll ratio. If you practise that, you can work out how your 8-iron might carry a certain number and roll a certain number. You can stand side on to the shot and work out how far the ball will run out with a certain club. You’ll be able to see whether your sand iron will run out.
I use every club in the bag for chipping. Quite a lot of my pupils find that complicated so they use less clubs to simplify.
Try and use your practice to make the game easier. Learn the visuals and learn to play and practise with different clubs. If you keep trying to manipulate the shot, whether that’s height or length, you bring in more variables that can work against you.
This kind of concept has been used since the 1930s. It’s not new but it’s still relevant. More people use more loft around the greens so there’s a ‘one club’ mentality but they don’t have the skillset to use that club. Having a system like this makes it easier and takes decision making out.
David Patrick, PGA professional, teaches at Kingsfield Golf Range. For lessons, call 07773 427233. Follow him on Twitter @shortgamedoctor.