John Renslow: A chip requires practice |

John Renslow: A chip requires practice

John Renslow

Considering how our other investments may be going, we might not want to take action on an investment tip. But, this investment won’t cost you anything (well, maybe a shag bag) and will give you hours of mental freedom while you wait for the stocks to go back up again.

Truth be known, the part of your golf game that will reward you with the most dynamic return also requires the most diligent investment. It is the “chip.” So, instead of going to the driving range and trying to achieve maximum distance with every swing, let’s try and turn a bogey into a par. You will need a Pitching Wedge, 8-iron, and 6-iron.

A chip is a short game shot that does get the ball in the air, but the ball spends the majority of its time rolling. The length of the shot can vary greatly. So, let’s look at this aspect of the game definitively and then address the mechanics and technique.

Generally speaking, we would like to hit a golf shot that puts us in the best position for the next golf shot. Sometimes this means that we hit the shot that is practical and comfortable, rather than the shot that we saw a Tour Player make on television last weekend. We are not trying to hit a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Our goal here is to turn three shots into two. Now just think how many strokes this can take off your score!

Of course, when your ball is on the putting surface, the overwhelming choice is to putt. Once the ball is off the green, and our ball is resting in the rough, we may still putt, but it can be challenging. Certainly, you can putt the ball even if your ball is in longer grass, but there comes a point when a putt is too unpredictable. We need a shot that carries just over the rough (the inconsistent stuff) and then rolls on the consistent surface toward the hole.

Begin by viewing the putting green and the surrounding area. Place a few balls just off the green, where you determine that a putt is no longer a prudent choice. The objective is to get the ball over the longer grass then begin rolling as soon as possible after the short flight.

This is how it’s done. Set up like your going to hit a normal golf shot, then move your forward foot (left foot for you right handed players) away from the ball a couple of inches. Your golf club face stays on line toward the target. From here the motion is essentially a mini-swing. Initially, using an 8-iron, rotate the club away from the ball slightly and then move the club through the ball and at the target line. This motion should be fairly symmetrical, a similar size going back as going forward, like a pendulum.

Hit a bunch of these shots (chips). We just want to become comfortable with the motion, the result is not a concern at first. Accuracy will not be a problem, it is the distance that will take some time to get accustomed to. Once you become comfortable with the mechanics, you can increase or decrease the size of the motion to lengthen or shorten the shot. A small motion will create a shorter result, and in turn, a larger motion will result in a shot that travels further. Next, you can change clubs to adjust the distance.

One of the mistakes made is for one club to become our BFF (you know, Best Friend Forever). There are instances where a pitching wedge would be appropriate to achieve more ball flight and others in which the ball will need to roll more, requiring a less lofted club, such as an 8-iron or even a 6-iron. Choosing the right club for the current conditions will make the shot easier for you.

Ask yourself these kinds of questions; what size motion will carry the ball over the rough? Which golf club will carry the ball over the rough, but not have the ball roll too far past the hole? Once you have chosen the golf club, rehearse the correct size motion. Then hit the shot.

Again, our desired outcome is to fly the ball over the inconsistent stuff (longer grass) and watch the ball roll on the putting surface toward the hole. Practice, practice, practice. Lather, rinse, repeat.

A new method and choice of clubs adjust for distance. Next time you practice, use that bucket of balls around the greens. This will lower your scores, while we hope the market will be on the rise.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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