Today's lesson at Oak Hollow Golfcourse was all about the short game: Chipping and Putting that's the ticket. I have two clubs in my bag that I have never tried to use, one marked 'S' the other 'P' or so I now know them as the Sandwedge and Pitching Iron. These beauties are used to chip in either very sensitive situations like when you are laid in the sandtrap or when in the deep rough to optimally get you on the green. Travis demonstrated how to get under the ball for a lift. Looked easy enough :) or so I thought.
There is one very important lesson I learned today and that is how to control the distance or try to anyway. Travis explained that the distance is controlled by the backswing, the further your backswing the more momentum you gain for contact and followthrough; also the more distance you can expect to achieve. If you want to chip a short distance, only a small couple inches from the ball is needed and a nice long followthrough. I learned that followthrough should always be the same, it is the backswing that controls the distance of the ball. I initially wanted to control the distance by stopping my swing short, as what most people do. When I attempted to adjust this error, I found myself in better control of the swing and surprisingly the distance. My followthrough was smoother and more controlled when I happened to do it correctly. I could almost place the ball where intended (well...it is my first try anyway)!
We chipped for quite awhile from various locations so not to get used to one particular movement, but worked on the feel of the technique itself. Along with that motion came a new stance. Opening up the body to allow for complete followthrough by about a 90 degree rotation. The clubface was more flattened to scoop the ball up from the sandtrap or the rough. Travis explained that with chipping, the left wrist stays locked and only the right wrist bends with followthrough. It was hard to get the brain to learn this move. Think like this, Travis said,"push the left hand with the right hand like you are pushing a baby on a swing...not too hard, but with a firm gentle sweeping motion". I want to tell you that made all the difference. My brain knows how to push a baby on a swing. When performed properly, the ball lifts and drops where intended (hopefully on the green close to the hole) for a short putt in. That has not been my experience, but a girl can dream right.
Now we moved onto putting; my nemesis. Now if I can take about 'four' putts off each green I may get into a respectable handicapp...smiles. Putting is much different than other golf swings in that you are only moving your shoulders like a pendulum. Your body stays straight and your head does not turn with the ball. Travis held the tip of my hat so I would stop turning my head when I putted. It was so hard not to turn my head. He explained that if I turned my head too soon the putter head would likely turn as well causing the ball to miss the cup. He said, "Don't look at the ball until it has left your putter". I can tell you it is much easier said than done. When I did this correctly, it certainly does work out for the best.
My homework assignment was to practice two feet out, then move to four feet out and then to six. Keep doing that in rotation and that will help me to learn to control distance of the putt. He also suggested that I should do this when I arrive to play while warming up so to judge the greens for the day. Good idea Travis.