Gravity is Your Friend
Though gravity has not been my friend with regards to a “middle age shift” (mass from my shoulders gradually finding its way to my belly), gravity has been my friend when it comes to having touch around the greens chipping and pitching. There are a number of instructional concepts that have been over taught and grossly misapplied over the years. Number one on the list is that you should “accelerate the club into the ball” in the short game. This is a true statement of course, the club should be accelerating as it contacts the ball, but because teachers and golfers often think of this concept in the negative: “don’t decelerate”, they generally misunderstand and misapply the concept proffering disastrous results.
Simply put, when you chip and pitch gravity should be your friend. Think of the club head motionless at the top of your back swing. If it would simply fall to the ground at a given height, would it be accelerating? Of course it would, in addition it would be moving at its fastest when it contacts the ground. It doesn’t take muscular effort to prevent “a decel,” it simply takes lack of tension and a commitment to the shot. Over acceleration ruins proper technique, rhythm, and therefore touch. Can you say spastic stab? I hope not, if so let’s get the concept right and have the correct amount and type of acceleration.
First relax and try and keep your grip pressure reasonably light and consistent throughout the motion. As you direct your gravity friendly swing toward the ball, the falling club should have enough energy to swing past it and carry on up an arc gradually coming to a stop. The length of the follow through should be dependent upon and commiserate with the length of the back swing. To get it right, take a few practice swings checking to see if the back swing and follow though are equal both in pace and length. When you have a smooth flowing motion simply address the ball and repeat it. Your rhythm will be fantastic and if your swing length and contact are right so will be your touch. This is what it means to “let the club do the work”. So as you prepare for the coming season, let gravity be your friend and enjoy more effortless chipping and pitching as well as lower scores. Best of Luck! – James