Chipping and Pitches

the slow syrupy feeling around the greens is a result of the player learning to dump the energy down into the ground, soft supple hands
all the great feel stuff you see.

Hitters typically have shorter strokes, quicker, stiffer wrist, and look like they are popping the ball around the greens. Don’t get me wrong, you can use hitting techniques around the greens too, but the great short games I witnessed during my years on tour would have great sensitivity, like the hands of a fine surgeon… a longer smooth stroke around the greens allows the brain a bit more time to monitor the forces that will be applied to the ball, mainly for distance control.

The TGM teaches chipping and pitching using the leading edge to dig basically a pivot driven motion. We here tour pros using more bounce around the greens especially on tight lies. Is this because of all the different types of grass they play around the world ,and is this a better technique?

I think there are a lot of options for around the greens… and like you said, so much depends upon the lie you have and type of grass. There are some great posts
by TwoMasters in the private student area about this subject and some great suggestions for how to dial in some of these tricky shots around the greens.

I tend to be a bit of a digger, delofting, punching down with a descending blow and very firm but cocking wrists for most of my basic chips. I don’t practice anymore so I just use a technique that is most dependable for my once a week rounds these days… and it’s quite effective usually.

I like Lag’s idea of the descending hit into chips and pitches. It keeps the hands ahead of the ball , promotes nice spin for the shot and eliminates the flick. Flicking is the main killer of short shots.
I think having some bounce in play can/does help the regular player who has trouble consistently keeping that impact fix position into and through the ball. That’s why you hear most pros talking about opening the club and giving some bounce to the shot, especially off the really tight lies that confront them around the greens on the tour courses. I bet on many occasions they don’t however do that and play it more with Lag’s method as it all depends on the lie and the trajectory and spin needed for the shot.
The bounce helps you. If you hit the ball fat the bounce then still gets through the ground and helps the ball at least get somewhere near it’s destination. If you lead the edge in and the timing is off, then the ball will plop a few feet in front of you.
Either method works great. The harder the ground the less bounce you want to use to get at the ball because it will then tend to ‘bounce’ off the surface and get those low ugly blading shots. The lie is all important and either way works fine. The bounce can save you though on occasion, so that’s why most people look at using it when they play these shots. There is a time and place for everything though. A low more running shot is better with no bounce or little bounce, and the hands always leading the club head. If a higher one is what you need then using the bounce tends to help.
Just fool around with a few different scenarios so you know which one to use in which situation


Good points by Lag and 2M…Another reason Tour players are using bounce off tight lies is probably a carryover from Stan Utley’s work. It’s a pretty cool “pitching” technique that I use for sand play/muffy lies as well. Stan defines a chip is when you use the leading edge and a pitch is when you use the trailing edge (bounce). When the pitch is done correctly using his method you can pitch the ball off concrete with 10 degrees of bounce… :nerd:

Then is it safe to say when pitching using hands only plane or utley method where club is more around you would produce a bounce produced shot. Also a Nicklaus method where he went more up to a elbow plane you would have to loop it inside on downswing? Mickelson keys are hinge and hold but on which plane hands,elbow or above elbow and why?


I can only speak for Stan’s Method. For pitching, he doesn’t lean the shaft much at address. Then he throws the clubhead into impact with his right palm facing up which creates the bounce…Yes, very un-TGMish with lots of clubhead speed compared to left arm speed
Stan's Throw.jpg

My thought on Stan’s technique here is that this is an active hand fire… because if it’s just a CF release, the club isn’t far enough back to make any kind of firm impact. If the right hand or both hands for that matter are actively firing, you would be using bounce on the club, and the club would get passed the hand quickly as he is describing utilizing all the loft on the club.

This is very TGM stuff to me…(proper hitting) very much what we are working on with our golf swings here, just a mini version.
I am always trying to encourage students to not have too much forward shaft lean into impact. A late release but
with active hand firing is the hitters protocol.


Then I guess I don’t understand hitting. I get that Stan is firing the right hand before impact. But the clubhead is whipping past the hands during and immediately after impact. I thought while hitting with vertical hinging the left wrist remains flat during and just after impact. :question:

One of the significant differences between hitting and swinging is the protocol for the hands…

A hit is just that… it’s a hit… meaning you use your muscles… a muscular hit… so as a hitter… the hands are motors… they hit actively… and in our class here as I work with the private area students, we work on exactly this… we hit… we hit with the hands… at the bottom not from the top…

Now in swinging… the hands are passive… they are not motors… they are hinges… passive hinges. Swinger’s utilize the law of the flail. That extra zip at the tip.
If you had a 5 foot stick, and you cut off a foot of it at the end, and you attached a hinge… you would have a little snap there… Just like equestrian riders. There is no motor there, just a passive hinge.

So getting back to chipping… Stans’ action he is describing is a hit… a motored throw with the hands. Because it is a short shot… it’s not required that the pivot motor the shot… The pivot is our big motor, for big shots. We don’t necessarily need this big motor for chips and short pitches. The reason our left wrist doesn’t bend on full shots… or shouldn’t… is because the pivot should be accelerating post impact… therefore the the FLW is created… not forced. The FLW is an effect of post impact pivot acceleration for hitters, and timing the straightening of the whip for swingers. The FLW is a vapor trail observation… that’s all… it is an effect… not something in and of itself that can be forced. It’s like the white vapor trail behind a jet aircraft. I don’t agree with Homer Kelley that the FLW is an imperative. Not that it should’t be there, but it in and of itself is not the imperative. Post impact pivot acceleration for fuller shots is the imperative. You have pivot force because you have resistance which is the weight of the club. The hands become more of a fulcrum point between the two, the weight and the force, and this is where the FLW is created. Force at the #4 pressure point from the master accumulator… the pivot. On the other end, you have the club and it’s weight. In between the two we have the hands… and if the pivot is accelerating then the FLW happens… because it is trying to resist the weight of the club. If the pivot is accelerating properly, it would not be uncommon for a player to feel that they are trying to break down the left wrist into impact. Of course they can’t because of the accelerating pivot… but that sensation would be there… Now if you take this back to chipping… you don’t need the pivot … you can still use it if you like, and I do…
but you don’t have to… most good players use a combination of body and wrists… but a right hand throw at the ball can be very effective without having a FLW for chipping or short pitch shots.

I’ll be releasing a comprehensive video on all this in much more detail regarding hitting vs swinging.


Thanks for your very clear FLW explanation. I understand what you have written regarding Form III and Primary Lever Assemblies. I agree with you the FLW is a result of good body pivot driven mechanics.

Just as a footnote, Stan’s pitching method has little correlation for him with distance and always uses a pivot that moves “evenly” with the club. Stan claims to pitch with his 58 degree SW up to 50 yards

In reference to chipping and pitching out of bermuda i struggle with method sometimes use leading edge and gouge it out at times try to use bounce and slide it out. With your experience playing out of bermuda from around the world any type of patterns more successful then others. Obviously depending on how deep the bermuda and whether its growing toward ball or away come into play but would love your insights on your success pattern because i’m leaving 3 to 4 shots on the table it seems like i play the wrong shot most of the time and leaving myself 10 to 12 feet left when the shot was not that extremely difficult. Thank You Mark


I know you asked Lag and apologize for stepping in but thought I could be of some help. My backyard is Bermuda and I practice at least 5 hours a week min in the stuff chipping and pitching…I can’t explain why I just love to do it. Anyway, if you can cleanly get your club on the ball, use the leading edge. If it’s not clean, bounce away…For me I like playing the bounce shot with a straight face. If I open it, I tend to lose my distance control. Also, if you’re using the bounce correctly, you hardly disturb the grass. I have found that Bermuda likes clubhead speed similar to a bunker shot. I used to hate Bermuda too.

The best way to clean up chipping issues is to firm up the grip, shorten the backstroke, and make sure you accelerate twice as far past the ball as the length of your backswing. Hands slightly forward, and don’t be afraid to use a bit of right wrist. Powering the chips with a bit of hand thrust can be quite effective… this technique will work out of most any grass fairly well.

Of course there are all kinds of endless approaches to chipping, but having a good solid go to shot is key.

Acceleration is key… you just don’t want the grass slowing down the clubhead or it becomes a guessing game.

Bermuda grass is probably by far the hardest grass to control the chip/pitch from. The roots are stronger , the grass is stronger and the grain and growth really affect the club and it’s path and the subsequent strike of the ball.
It really takes some practice. I suggest a firmer grip as that stuff is very gnarly and slows the club down. It can be played bunker style. It can be played back in the stance with a descending blow. It can be played with heel up/toe down and the toe of the club drives through and makes contact. It can be played a number of ways…the lie dictates a lot as to how the ball will react.
I will get Lag to chime in here about how he sets his most lofted wedge up with a more upright lie angle…that idea can work really well in this type of grass. the more upright club and more vertical setting of the club and hands at address can eliminate the heel ever being caught in this type of grass and the club tends to cut through the grass better like a knife and you get a more consistent hit. Food for thought. Even the best in the world still have trouble with chipping from bermuda as it is extremely unpredictable, so don’t fear it…find a feel that works and stay aggressive through the shot

There are so many techniques for shots around the green, and I don’t think any of us amateur or pro could ever know and properly execute all ways of playing short game shots.

One of the things I have really learned this last year after my substantial lay off from the game, is that being a full time golfer or professional on tour… you have a lot of time practice, and with enough practice, you can make a lot of undesirable techniques work. Too much time can be a bad thing!

In the last year, I had to take a serious look at my short game in general, because after not playing for 15 years, I could still strike the ball reasonable well because I have very good technique. On the other hand, my short game was quite awful by profession standards. So realizing that I am only going to be a once a week golfer now… I needed to figure out how I could work better technique into my game, so that practice could be put aside, and my short game could remain reasonably presentable even to my own standards of excellence. I really needed to only look to the principles I was apply in my long game…
A more compact aggressive accelerating strike with firm hands actively hitting the golf ball.

As a touring pro, I was a very soft handed feel player around the greens and stuck with this technique, which as I know now… required lots of constant attention. I was a hitter tee to green, but a swinger around the greens. This was fine as long as I could grind balls, and chip lots of shag balls… but the problem I had was that at some point… somewhere between chipping and wedges was a strange zone where hitting and swinging would meet with very bad results. Once I learned to “HIT” chips, this really worked well and cleaned up my wedge play considerably. Now my game feels a perfect unity from putter to driver.
I changed my putting and my putter also to embrace the same ideology. I really think this is what you see with great players.
A consistent look and feel in general from tee to green. Think about Tom Watson… Crenshaw or even Trevino.

My basic thought on chipping now is that the longer and slower you move the club, the more feel and intuition is required.
You have to be able to guess what the grass is going to do. I mean the grass, the lie, the combination of the grass and lie.
The thing I have really learned is that if you accelerate the club really firmly through the ball… it takes a lot of the guess work out of it. So if you can learn the more universal feel of a an extremely accelerating compact chipping method… to get a feel for your distances this way… I think it’s really great stuff… very little practice needed to maintain it… once you get the basic feel of it.

I showed the technique to two students here, ballturf and david_wagner, so it might be good to ask them to chime in about it for verification… good or bad!

I’ll talk about my special sand wedge method here later…

Hey John,

I was very impressed with your chipping at Los Verdes. To me, the most memorable shot you hit that day was the chip at # 4. You were pin high, in Kikuyu fringe, very downhill lie, about 14 feet from the hole – a very fast chip. Sand wedge with a 2 inch backswing and a 4 inch finish to about a foot. I could not believe the acceleration you used on such a fast chip. I’ve never seen anything like that! (BTW, it seems to me that Kikuyu makes Bermuda look downright anemic!)

I’ve been working on it. Seems like I have to set up more like a regular golf shot; not really tall like I have been for chips. More of a forearm plane with a hint of axis tilt. I seem to do better if I feel as if I am drawing the ball with a shallow angle of attack. Am I on the right track?

Your putting was very impressive as well, yet you do not have much of a follow though. Why not a finish twice as long as the backswing?

remember my Mad Max vintage putter? The secret is with teeth on the bottom. All golf shots offer a lot of potential for resistance and a lot of vibration coming up the shaft… .except putting. We only get the weight of the ball. That is the problem for me. Since I don’t grind at this game anymore I have to be a bit more clever… :sunglasses:

So the most important thing for me on the greens is that I can feel the putter head. For me… I need it heavy… super heavy so I can feel the club. That is a good start. Second, I need to feel impact. The ball is way too light for my tastes, I would much rather be putting a cue ball or billiards heavy marble ball.
I need to feel impact being big, heavy and substantial. The divot feel is important to me on the greens so I can get a sense of impact. The feel for speed in my case seems to be with a bit longer a stroke… seems to be my putting DNA. So given all that… I take a couple practice strokes down and into the turf to feel impact, then I just get over the putt, take two looks and send it on it’s way. I have a lot of technical things I do that are worked in, such as a low right shoulder, closed stance, all things to set my body to allow an inside path back and through… I like to feel I am hooking my putts ever so slightly as the greens I putt on mostly now are more like they were back in the 50’s or 60’s. I actually prefer bad greens, as my stroke is set up to really get the ball rolling nicely off the face to give it the best chance to do something good. Bad greens makes the game more of a ball strikers game, and less of a putting game.
I like putting but have zero interest in practicing it. As long as I can putt fairly well, I can enjoy the game a lot. It’s not all that fun being a horrifically bad putter. I still like to take it low on a good day and you need to be a decent putter to do that. Ball striking is usually my strength by far, but I think my short game is pretty solid for not practicing or playing much. Good rock solid technique will go far in this game. I think you need good technique if you choose the no practice route. With enough practice, you can make most anything work, but the real test of technique in my opinion is taking time off. If you really own it… it won’t go away because you laid off. I’ll be re testing this theory as I am having to take time off now to let my elbow heal up, after jambing it up with a hand power drill… :blush: Probably a month. It was pretty annoying when we played and again last week at Lincoln. So no more… I don’t like playing this game hurt. At least now I don’t have to fly home off the tour…!


Would you recommend 2 to 1 followthru with the lob over bunkers and other delicate shots as well?

that’s what I do…
The slower dead hands stuff can be great too… but I think takes a lot more practice… if you have the time it’s beneficial to have a few styles in the arsenal.

I’m trying to keep golf as simple as possible with the same feel from driver to holing a 4 foot putt.

Hey Lag, :bulb:
Thanks for the chipping lesson and how Ironic was it for you to chip in that day, Especially right after our conversation about how you can be on the green putting for Birdie and someone can hit some squirly shots and then miss the Green and our inter voice is saying I can pick up a few stokes and then your opponent chips it in!!! WOW! Then your putt becomes longer. :blush: That was amazing. Since that day at Los Verdes I have adopted that method and I’m developing a better short game. I no longer reach for my wedge. As strange as may seem I kind of look forward in missing the greens. I want to practice this short stoke procedure. GOOD Stuff.

I also adopted your putting style however I don’t have little teeth coming out of my putter yet. However, I am thinking about putting salt in my shaft to get that heavy putting stoke. I’m also using the fringe to get that sensation that you’re getting to feel the preasure in my hands. Good practice stokes before addressing my actual putt.

Ballturf :smiley: