A good amount of the mid-high handicap golfers I meet are unnecessarily struggling with their chip shots.
Nearly every time I ask them what they are thinking, the response is typically with a checklist of 20 points they are racing through, ranging from setup cues to swing cues.
- Weight on left side
- Handle forwards
- Keep weight still
- Rotate back and through
- Don’t use wrist
- Blah blah blah
Yes, most of these things are well and good, there’s no way we can possibly perform well under all this pressure with these kinds of thoughts going on.
A Penny for My Thoughts
If I was to place a small coin, such as a penny, on top of the grass and asked you to sweep it off the grass towards the hole, do you think you could?
Of course, you could, that’s not difficult.
I can nearly guarantee you wouldn’t need a 20 point checklist to sweep the coin out of the grass and towards the hole.
What if I was to tell you that chipping is just as simple as this?
The 3 Cent Drill
Grab three pennies and line them up in a row – place a golf ball on top of the last coin. Come to stance to the first coin and brush it towards the target, making sure you hear the nice “ping” as your clubface strikes that coin. Follow your instincts about the mechanics and set up for that moment – do what feels most comfortable.
Approaching the third coin that has the ball placed on top, imagine that the ball isn’t there. Try to clip the coin away just like you did moments before with the other coins.
Use Your Instincts
After the first two hits, don’t be surprised when you approach the final coin with the golf ball, that your mind will be determined to go through that procedural checklist again. Refuse to do it. Just take your stance and sweep that coin towards the target as carefree as a child would.
Instantly you will notice that your swing has become more natural and similar to the swing used to sweep the coin, the more you practice the better the results.
Backed by Science
I almost never do blogs about such a simple thing, but it kills me when I see someone paralyzed by overthinking on something as simple as a chip shot.
A large number of golfers I see are all caught up by not only the internal focuses (such as body movements) but also many declarative thoughts.
Science has proven that too much attention to a list of techniques under high pressure situations will result in choking. Science has also shown us that internal focusing doesn’t only increase the chances of choking, but also can slow down skill learning and retention.
In my book “The Practice Manual – The Ultimate Guide For Golfers”, I review ideas behind where your focus should be and how this can affect both learning and performance. Join the thousands of golfers who have bought this book and are already improving their game, by clicking the image link below.
Did you know that one of the most significant ways to improve your short game is improving the quality of when you strike the ball?
When you strike the ball better and more consistent, the ball will come off the clubface with better speed and spin – and much more consistently at that.
The Strike Plan is my online program that will help you achieve just that for both short game and long game. Click the image link below to learn more.
The Cliff Note Version
Instead of going through a long checklist of procedures, go back to basics by tapping into your instincts. Imagining sweeping a coin, just like the explained drill above, will help improve your performance and the retention of the swing – allowing you to perform better under pressure.
Senior Golf Instructor, Writer