A quick chipping tip from Seve Ballesteros.
“I’d like to see the fairways more narrow. Then everyone would have to play from the rough, not just me.” – Seve Ballesteros.
While I was doing some research for the book and compiling the things I talk about in the workshop in written form, I began to reminisce about a golfer that inspired me greatly when I was young.
I’m not 100% sure whether it was due to the way he competed so fiercely or the fact that he had 91 professional tournament wins around the world, including 5 major championships.
Thinking back, it was probably more due to the fact that as he was seldom on the fairway but almost always able to extricate himself from all sorts of places, which meant that I was able to identify with his style of golf greatly throughout most of my golfing years.
Actually, maybe I learnt a little too much from him thinking about it now.
The golfer I’m talking about is of course the great Seve Ballesteros and rather than writing the book that day as I had thought I would, I began to search around the internet for some footage of him playing golf to see if I could find a few clues as to just why it was that he was so outstanding at chipping and the rest of the short game.
I managed to find some footage from The Open at Birkdale in 1976 where, unable to catch Johnny Miller who won the tournament, Seve plays a great chip and run shot between the bunkers on the 18th to finish second in a situation where most golfers would have tried to play some sort of lofted shot.
The comment from Johnny Miller afterwards: ‘Man I was very impressed, what a great chip shot on 18’.
After watching quite a few more videos, I got back to thinking about chipping or more specifically the difference between what the average golfer does which is:
Approach the golf ball, while grabbing their usual chipping club out of the bag, take 1 or 2 quick practice swings then fire off their chip shot.
Resulting normally in a shot that is poor to average at best.
Whereas, if you ever had the opportunity to see Seve Ballesteros (which I unfortunately never got to do in person) prepare and then play a chip shot, you would have seen a way of analysing and hitting that sort of shot around the green that was dramatically different from the average golfer.
Here is an overview of Seve’s basic routine that I gained from watching the old footage:
First, he spent some time studying the lie which he always did standing next to the golf ball, focusing on how the golf ball was sitting on the grass itself and whether the lie was flat or sloping, uphill or downhill.
Because he knew that all of those factors, affect the starting direction and trajectory of the golf ball.
Second, he would look at where he wanted his chip shot to finish on the green, which was Seve’s way of getting a feel for the total distance he needed the chip shot to go.
Third, he would stand still and ‘see the shot’, literally he would generate and watch a ‘video clip’ of how he saw the best possible shot happening based on the lie, slope, green speed and distance he wanted the chip to go.
If you don’t do that in your game currently, take a couple of minutes to think about just how powerful that could be!
Fourth, he would rehearse the feel of the shot, most often Seve would make right arm only swings back and forth without a club, to get a feel for the pace of movement he wanted in his arms and hands.
Then often, he would take a few practice swings with the same motion, also without having a golf club in his hands before finally deciding on a club to play the shot with.
Read that again to make sure you have it!
One of the biggest mistakes I see golfers make with a chip shot, is that the first thing they tend to do is select a club or have a favourite which they then try to manipulate to make their shot work, regardless of what the ideal chip shot is.
Seve though, always chose his club after he chose his chip shot, which to me is one of the critical reasons that he was widely regarded as one of the best short game players of all time.
Using his approach (without holding anyone up of course), exactly as I have outlined above can really help your chipping as well as the rest of your game.
The Little Book of Chipping – you can find it here is full of simple, easy to follow advice that will improve your chipping, whether you are a golfer that’s new to the game and wanting to learn the right way to chip or an existing golfer that is struggling with your chipping, wanting to improve it or one of those many golfers who hates chipping – The Little Book of Chipping will help you.
Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.