Touchdown For Chipping and Pitching

Chip Shot Stance

From a fluffy lie just off of the putting surface, some golfers will drop their clubhead all the way down to the turf whereas this golfer appears not to be putting too much downward pressure on his club. According to Jim Flick, he might even be able to hover the clubhead just slightly higher if ┬áhe is hitting too many “fat” or “heavy” shots.

Are you hitting too many fat or heavy short shots around the greens (i.e hitting behind the ball)? If so, one of golf’s great instructors, Mr. Jim Flick long ago taught me about golf’s “Touchdown” lesson.

What he meant by “touchdown” was the downward pressure and placement of the club vertically behind the ball when pitching or chipping. Mr. Flick felt that too many golfers, and especially the ones prone to hit the ball fat or heavy, place too much downward pressure on the club when they position it behind their ball. Where you position the club determines the bottom of your arc or the “touchdown point” of your swing.

If your ball is setting up nicely as illustrated above, but you position your club all the way below it on the turf, you create a lower point in your arc where your club will both intercept more grass thereby slowing it down and it will also cause you to strike the ball high on the clubface away from the sweet spot. Both issues will cause the shot to fall short of your intended target.

Mr. Flick maintained that the better approach was to hover the clubhead at the ball’s equator or just below it. This allows you to hit the ball with a more descending blow clipping less grass and striking the ball on the club’s sweet spot which is lower on the clubface.

There is a rules reason to do this as well. Should you not sole the club on the turf and it moves, there is no penalty as opposed placing the club firmly on the turf gets a penalty stroke if the ball accidentally moves. Jack Nicklaus would do this “hovering” on all shots and therefore never risked the penalty. It also allowed him to initiate his backswing in a slow, smooth rhythmic manner where others would sometimes get their club caught in the grass during their takeaway.

The primary checkpoint here is to monitor the downward pressure and positioning of your clubhead at set-up for short chip and pitch shots.

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