by Donald Crawley
Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club
Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) --
The usual response to the ball going in directions other than those intended for it when in close proximity to the green is "coulda, woulda, shoulda" and it sure looked easier when Tiger, Sergio, Phil, VJ and Ernie were doing it. Just a simply short stroke, club halfway back and up to the height of your waist, open the stance a bit and then come down and through. Piece of cake and twice as tasty when it rolls within a makeable distance of the flag. But, the fact of the matter is that you eventually awakened and now had to go out to the course to put theory, dreams and hoped for replication of that which is done by others to the test. Welcome to the real world.
Let's start by thinking one basic motion, the manner and approach, mentally and physically, whereby you can eliminate guesswork and hit the ball close from just about any greenside situation. Ah, that thought feels almost as good as a breath of fresh air, the advent of Spring, the birth of your first child, a hole in one. I call this the ?chitch? because it combines the reliable contact and roll of a chip with the higher trajectory of a pitch. Think of it as a chip being up and running while a pitch is up, up and not quite away. This then is about to become your go-to short game play of the round.
The first decision is knowing when to play the chitch. Without adding a carpenter's ruler to the equipment in your bag, think of hitting this shot from within 30 yards of the green and whenever you have some green to with which to work. I know that I need not tell you this but we are not speaking of the ball being in the sand or deep rough.
Now that you have decided that it is time for the "chitch" you are undoubtedly wondering about the club you must purchase and add to the bag without going over the fourteen presently occupying space? Put your credit card away, it is just a matter of club selection, not purchase. Choose a club based on the ratio of carry to roll you need. No, you do not get one phone call to an expert to determine that and failing or passing geometry, trigonometry or science is of no consequence here. Think of it in these terms - to fly half the total distance to the hole and let the ball roll the final half, use a pitching wedge. A 9- or 8-iron, on the other hand, will carry about one-third the distance and roll about two-thirds. I recommend taking no more than a 7-iron, which should fly one-quarter of the distance. And, always keep the swing the same.
Now that you believe you have the correct club in your hands, what about the set-up? Good question. Play the ball one inch back from the middle of your stance because the chitch should always roll a little. Your hands should be in line with your left heel so the shaft of the club leans forward. This setup encourages you to make contact while the club is descending (above). Not into the ground as if you were planting in the garden...just descending down. You are not digging, you are striking.
Speaking of the swing, make the backswing and follow-through mirror each other and be equal in length. For the standard chitch of 15 to 20 yards, swing the club back to thigh height. On longer shots, you can swing back as far as chest high and always resist the urge to use a lot of hand action---control the swing with your arms and shoulders and turn your body through the shot.
Oh yes, practice, practice, practice. Rushing out to the course shouting to your friends, "Wait until you see this one, the chitch, will definitely not cut it." Once you have it down as best you can and finally put it into play then you can respond when you hear that more than welcome "Nice shot!"
-- with Greg Midland
Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 29 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs? Golf Schools, consultant to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and presently at the Boulders Golf Resort in Arizona.
Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002, he won the Southwest Section PGA?s Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.