Golf Chipping Tip: Duplicate Your Lie for Rehearsal Chips Like Tom Watson

Tom Watson Chip in 17 Pebble Beach Duplicate Lie for Rehearsal Chips

Symptom:  When chipping from a bad lie, your chip shots sometimes go two feet instead of the thirty feet you had planned, often nestling down in the grass to make for an even more difficult chip for your next shot.  Expletives are uttered or at least imagined.

Description:  Study your lie, then find some grass and a stance that closely resemble your lie and take enough practice swings through the grass to get a feel for your chip.  Then, and only then, do you pick a spot to land your ball and execute your chip.

Why it Works:  Chipping, more than any other shot in golf, depends upon the details of your lie.  This is because chips are such short shots, that your don’t generate much clubhead speed.  Any extra piece of grass can catch your club, take spin off the ball, decelerate your clubhead, or do other unexpected and unwanted things.  Chipping is an art, that is why touch and feel in chipping are so important for this phase of the game.

The Rehearsal Chip

Tom Watson Chip in 17 Pebble Beach Duplicate Lie for Rehearsal Chips
Tom Watson at Pebble Beach in 1982.

The good news is that you can almost always do your practice chips in grass that closely resembles your lie.  Please note that sometimes, the best duplicate lie might be several paces away from your ball.  This is especially so if you are in an unusual (and unfortunate) situation, such as a severe upslope or downslope, your feet far above or below the ball, etc.  Don’t let that deter you — walking several yards from your ball to find the right duplicate lie is a very good investment of your time.  You need to get a feel for how much the grass is catching the clubface, how much you need to hit down on the ball, how to best distribute your weight if you are on a hill, and so on. For a great illustration of this tip, watch Tom Watson’s famous chip-in at the 71st hole of the 1982 US Open at Pebble Beach.  See how his rehearsal chips (0:20) are right next to his ball, to mimic his actual lie?  Obviously his result was excellent (good thing it hit the pin!), and sealed his victory over Nicklaus — have a look:

Hands Ahead for Chipping

If your lie is anything but perfect, please remember to keep your hands ahead of the ball through impact to ensure that your clubface delivers a descending blow to the golf ball.  Tom did this and it worked for him!

Remember, duplicate your lie for rehearsal chips on the course, and I’ll guarantee your chipping and scores improve!  Tell your friends!  Like, Tweet, Email, or +1 below!

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