I had my chipping lesson with Paul Harrison at Maidenhead Golf Centre on Saturday. Much overdue and eagerly anticipated. I explained the fact that although I understood the recognised chipping technique of weight forward, hands ahead of the ball etc, the truth was the brain had long since been scrambled on the nuances of wrist hinge, swing path and body turn. I'd ended with a head full of chocolate frogs and couldn't stand over any length of chip shot without the golfing brain going into meltdown.
I'd expected to Paul to go back over old ground but he wanted to try a different approach. It is called the Linear method and was developed by a guy called Gary Smith who is one of the short game coaches to the England sides. Basically it involves standing square to the target with the feet, hips and shoulders and more importantly with the club shaft vertical and the hands level with the ball and in front of the sternum. From there it is about taking the club back in a straight line (hence linear) and using a full rotation of the body as the engine room to execute the shot.
There is an example below of the principles from Gary Smith himself. Although he hits a longish chip/pitch in the example, the principle remains intact all the way down to little shots from the fringe of the green
In essence then it is about keeping everything centralised, with the hands delivering the club back to square and really making a turn through to drive the arms and stop the duffed ones. I've got to say I'm not adept with the turn properly yet. When it is good and flows it's great but sometimes I don't turn enough and the shot lacks crispness and authority and doesn't fly as far as I would want. It is definitely a work in progress but it really has for the most part taking the dreaded fat shot out of the equation and the number of thins through the other side of the green are also greatly reduced. I need to work on distance control and the basics, which will be the focus of my practice this week but once it falls into place and I trust it I can start to save many shots around the greens. That in turn puts less pressure on the approaches into the green which in itself takes away the vice like apprehension of having to try and find a fairway off the tee. It filters all the way back and hopefully the whole game will flow much better as a result.
It really is chipping for dummies and seems to me a much simpler approach. I've signed up for the full DVD and so we'll be seeing how that pans out in due course. For now it gets a big Homer thumbs up.