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Andy Podolak on Chipping

Fire Ridge Pro Offers Succinct Advice

By John Ehle

Andy Podolak teaches golf concepts with a spare, no nonsense delivery. Simplicity and precise word choice makes a lesson with Andy straightforward and understandable. When we talked early this week I asked him what he'd like to work on when we got together at Fire Ridge. Chipping was his immediate response.

Now, I've been subtracting long irons from my bag for several years so I've filled the openings by adding wedges. This year I'm experimenting with the possibility of carrying five, yes five in my ever-changed array of tools. I've kept my pitching wedge, added a 52 degree gap wedge and kept the oldest club in my bag; a 54.5 degree PING beryllium copper sand wedge which has survived to the ripe old age of 25 years. I've also added a 56 degree and a 59 degree lob wedge.

Andy didn't blink when I told him what I was thinking, so our session at the putting green allowed me to work through all wedges and my 8 and 9 irons as well.

Andy's method for setting up for chips is not dissimilar from that which Tiger and Phil employ. Feet close together and toes pointed at a 45 degree angle to the target line. Andy encourages a weight distribution which favors one's front foot emphasizing feet parallel and, again, close together. He doesn't want weight shifts or swaying. I was encouraged to grip the club just as I hold my putter. I don't claw or anchor so my reverse overlap grip seems just fine. This grip may change when executing a shot with a more lofted club; conventional, full-swing grip.

Addressing the ball, a forward-leaning angle leads to angling the shaft/handle so that it forms a very oblique angle with the right arm so that the shaft points between the left hip and one's zipper. Relax. The chip out of deeper, greenside rough requires a steepish angle of descent when executing this little shot. The ball is played off the right foot as the intent is to get the ball on the surface quickly and letting it run its course.

A pivotal component of these small shots is to allow the club to carry one's torso toward the target so that the hands precede the clubhead.....avoiding the dreaded skull. The clubhead accelerates through the grass, impelled by the speed through the hitting area.

Moving the ball forward accomplishes a setup which produces a more lofted shot....assuming that the geometry of the shaft remains the same. Farther forward, more height and less roll.

We used the 8 and 9 irons when attempting a lengthier chip; again, getting the ball onto the green rapidly.
We employed the 59 degree wedge (8 degrees of bounce) when attempting to land the ball softly toward a closely set pin. Ball forward, bigger swing...and let your torso rotate toward the target.

Chipping is such an important part of the short game that it warrants concentrated practice. I concocted a simple mantra for myself; feet, shaft, torso....or FIST. My lesson and practice session left me with a feeling of accomplishment and a very positive distillation of what CAN be a confusing aspect of the short game.

Revised: 05/16/2013 - Article Viewed 29,712 Times

About: John Ehle

John Ehle John Ehle writes for, GolfTrips,com and other golf-related sites in the US. He has attended 6 Open Championships in the British Isles and many men's and women's US Opens and PGA Championships as well as Ryder Cups and President's Cups.

His primary international writing is golf course reviews and travel articles. He also writes about golf equipment and other golf-related products. Most recently he traveled to Cuba and will be in SE Asia for 6 weeks in February and March, 2012.

He writes a weekly column for a metropolitan newspaper in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He is a 10 handicap golfer and has competed in many Wisconsin State Golf Association events.

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