Category Archives: course management

‘Chipping out’ – is not a sign of weakness – part three


“The number one thing about trouble is…don’t get into more.” – Dave Stockton

By Ian Hardie

In the article ‘Chipping out’ – is not a sign of weakness – part two I talked about the fact that because golf means a lot of different things to a lot of very different people around the world

There are only a few things that I think are (almost) universal in the game

One of which is the mind-set to keep hitting every shot directly at the flagstick – regardless of how unlikely the chances of playing the shot well are – which I usually describe as having a ‘flag mentality’

This ‘flag mentality’ would appear to be present in most golfers, simply because ‘chipping out’ to safety is viewed by other golfers

As an absolute sign of weakness or a lack of skill to go forwards

In that last article I suggested that one of the biggest contributors to this problem over the years has been the highlights packages from golf tournaments that are shown on television

Which inevitably show the odd incredible shot played from deep in the trees by the golfers who are doing well in the tournament that day – over time if you watch enough of them you would start to think that playing the miracle shot through the trees

Is the standard thing that should happen while playing golf

When in actual fact, there are a significantly larger number of golfers attempting those same shots out there, who you don’t see on the highlights package – simply because they weren’t able to hit the miracle shot and instead they went on to rack up bogey, double bogey, triple bogey or worse…………………….

The bottom line is that choosing to take the option of ‘chipping out’ is not a sign of weakness or a lack of skill – it’s a smart decision that you can make to give yourself the best chance of scoring well on a hole after a poor shot

Which is what a good golfer would do

Now, at this point I was going to share some ideas with you that would help you to figure out if the shot you are facing – is in fact worth going for or whether you would be smarter to chip out but first I’m going to talk about a real life example I experienced some years ago of just how much effect those highlights packages on television actually have on golfers around the world

Just bear in mind as you read this – that apart from changing the name – this actually happened………………………

I want you to picture a nice, sunny day at a nine-hole golf course in a small rural town

It was on a golf course that I was visiting for the first time in order to provide some golf tuition for the local golfers who lived a fair distance away from the city I was based in

As it was a rare event for the members of the golf club to have a Golf professional there teaching, I had a full schedule of golfers to help for the day – not to mention the bonus of a very nice lunch that had been put on in the clubhouse for me by some of the club members

It was a day that those of you reading who teach the game of golf around the world, will recognise as exactly the reason why we continue to work so hard to try and help golfers with their golf game

A golf course that had a bunch of golfers keen to learn and some great assistance by the other members of the golf club to allow that to happen

To suggest that I was really enjoying my work that day would be an understatement

Somewhere, early in the afternoon though things changed a little as I experienced one of the most amazing requests I have ever had that relates to teaching that game of golf

Nothing like the usual requests that golf teachers get around the world most days:

I want to drive the ball 350 yards

Show me how to hit a hole in one

I’d like to learn golf by tomorrow (yes that happens!)

I want to be good enough to join the PGA Tour in a year

Show me how to hit every shot straight

Those requests (plus a bunch more) are all pretty standard things that golf teachers get asked before and during golf lessons

This request though, was something that you won’t believe

Well, ok maybe it wasn’t the request that was unbelievable – it may well have been the fact that the golfer who asked of me – really didn’t fit the image of the type of golfer that you would expect may ask the question

It turned out that ‘Betty’ had only been playing golf for a few years, with a half set of miss-matched golf clubs that she had been given by her elderly aunt (just remember that bit) who had long since stopped playing golf

While the very old and miss-matched golf clubs were certainly doing her no favours when it came to hitting her golf shots – something that was illustrated by her inability (up until that point) to have less than 65 shots for her 9 holes of golf that she played each week – but as I was there in a teaching capacity, I wasn’t going to dwell on the fact that

Some newer golf clubs would have helped her to reduce her golf scores for a start

‘Betty’ had far more pressing thoughts in her mind about golf that she wanted to ask me as I began her lesson by watching her hit a couple of shots

As is usually the way with most golfers having a lesson, each of ‘Betty’s’ first few shots was followed by a comment from her such as ‘I’m not doing this thing’ or ‘I did that thing wrong again’

To attempt to explain why the golf ball wasn’t doing quite what she thought it should

Like most golfer’s ‘Betty’ was convinced that she was doing things wrong – which was why she didn’t play so well – when in reality, just like millions of other golfers around the world ‘Betty’s’ only problem was that she hadn’t been given enough information as to how to really play the game of golf from the very start

Something I am attempting to change around the world with my ‘Discover golf’ online program

Which you can find out more about here if you don’t know what it is or how it can help you

‘Betty’ also thought that her lack of golfing prowess up till that point could have been due to her late start in the game or the fact that she was 76 years old

That’s right, ‘Betty’ was a fairly spritely 76 year old, who even though she really enjoyed her weekly game of golf – wasn’t really standing in front of me with a desire to improve her scores

It turned out that the reason she had put her name down for a golf lesson had been fuelled by watching those golf highlight packages on television in the hope that she would ‘learn things’ that would help her golf

Something that I’ve previously suggested is a bad idea (you can read why here)

So, just what was it that ‘Betty’ – a 76 year old golfer who was still quite new to the game and had never scored less than 65 shots for nine holes – wanted me to show her how to do?

‘Betty’s’ request was that she wanted me to show her how to hit her golf ball through the trees – “just like the golfer’s on television do”

Take a minute here to read that again!

To say that I was taken aback by that request would be an understatement and I’ll have to admit that it took me a few minutes of processing to come up with an answer for ‘Betty’

I suggested to her, as I have been to you, that in actual fact those one or two miraculous shots that she was seeing on television were the exception and that the reality was that most golfers who tried those shots failed miserably

My thought was that we would be better to spend the rest of the lesson time looking at ways for ‘Betty’ to hit the ball with more consistency and work on her lining up to help her accuracy

So that she would seldom find herself in the trees

I have to admit that ‘Betty’ looked a little deflated that I wasn’t going to show her how to hit through the trees like the pros on television do but she agreed that what I was suggesting probably (her word!) made sense

By the end of the lesson, ‘Betty’ was hitting much better golf shots than she had ever hit and I had sent her off to work on just a couple of basic points over the next few weeks – with one final instruction

If you find yourself in the trees – you must immediately chip-out in the simplest possible way and then continue on towards the green

In other words – no trying to hit through the trees!

A few weeks later, I had a phone call from a very proud and excited golfer, who had just had her best round ever – a 56 for 9 holes

‘Betty’ was over the moon about how well she could play now and couldn’t thank me enough for the difference my teaching had made to her golf game – making special mention of the fact that each time she had hit a wayward shot after our lesson – she simply chipped out into the fairway and then kept going

Making a point of doing that can probably help your golf a lot as well

As could joining the discover golf program if you need a little more help than you are getting with your golf now

Look out for ‘Chipping out’ – is not a sign of weakness – part four’ when I will actually take a look at how to decide whether to go for it or chip it out when you are in trouble, as well as taking a look at the times when that decision isn’t so clear – like it is in the image above

Where Miguel Angel Jimenez is in the rough with no trees in his way

Until then

Play well


Related Posts

‘Chipping out’ – is not a sign of weakness

‘Chipping out’ – is not a sign of weakness – part two

Why do we hit our best shots out of trouble?

Are you playing golf on autopilot?