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Mastering the One-Yard Chip

Bruce Morser Illustration

Photo: Bruce Morser

Everything involving touch and judgment around the green is magnified when you play at Augusta. Chipping may be affected even more than putting. I always felt that to compete in the Masters I had to be able to hit a variety of chip shots that carried one yard in length. That’s thirty-six inches of carry. I would stand next to the practice green and work on all three of these shots: one that would bite and check up, one that would release and run, and one that was sort of neutral and just fed its way into whatever slope or break I was up against. Here’s my technique for playing this shot:

Angle of attack is a deciding factor in whether the ball skids and releases, grabs and dies, or bounces and rolls. Determine angle of attack through wrist set and ball position. The more wrist set you make and the farther forward you play the ball, the higher it will rise off the ground and the more it will check up when it lands.

A simple way to set the wrists is to press the club handle into the heel pad of your left hand with the last two fingers of that hand. Try this at address with your right hand off the club, avoiding any attempt—conscious or unconscious—to keep the blade on the ground.

As that pad presses into the handle, the clubhead will rise off the ground and work backward from the ball on its natural takeaway path. If you’re wearing a watch on your left wrist, you’ll see the watch face turn slightly toward the ball. After a few repetitions, try this with your right hand positioned on the grip. It should go along for the ride naturally.

Once the clubhead is poised, you’re ready to make your little chip stroke. Though it’s a compact stroke, it also has some rhythm and flow to it. You make a slight hip turn and shoulder turn.

The more the leading edge of the club stays open to the target, the more loft you’ll get onto the shot. The more release you have on the clubhead—the more it closes after impact—the lower the ball will fly and the farther it will travel.

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