Wrists Or No Wrists When Chipping?

Should your wrists be used when chipping around the green? Most Golfers advocate not using any wrists – though some Golfers do encourage a limited use of the hands and wrists. So the question that many Golfers often ask themselves –

“How should I do it? Wrists or no wrists?”

There are so many different Theories and Assumptions on how to play a shot when you’re around the green such as ‘wrists or no wrists’. For example, you have to make the choice whether to use ‘multiple clubs depending on the shot’ versus the idea of ‘becoming a master of one club around the green’. Then we have the debate of whether you should ‘get the ball rolling as soon as possible’ versus if you should ‘keep it in the air half the distance and let it roll the other half’.

Why do Golfers have such a hard time agreeing on techniques?

Regardless of the situation – everybody and their mother (or father in this politically correct era) is more than eager to enlighten you on how you should play your shots around the green. And as one fed-up PGA Professional said after he was schooled by a Golfer he was trying to help, that matter-of-factly told him that a friend taught him a better way to play the chip shot than the way the Professional was advising – ‘There are around 26,000 PGA Professionals in America, but unfortunately there are around 10 million Instructors.’

“The only way you should chip is the way I chip. I use a putting stroke and make sure I don’t use any wrists at all. You need to keep your wrists completely out of the chip shot. That’s the way I do it! Rock your shoulders, rock your shoulders, rock your shoulders. You don’t want to use too much right hand – if you do, you’ll start scooping. And never forget – DON’T MOVE YOUR HEAD!!! If you peek too early, you’re going to take your eye off the ball. So keep your head still”

Listen, I can’t even remember to take the recyclables out to the curb on Thursday morning and that’s with constant reminding from my wife which includes (but isn’t limited to) – reminders at dinner on Wednesday night and an under the breath “recyclables in the morning” after she gives me a kiss before turning out the lights; and if that isn’t enough, she still lives me the infamous post-it note on my steering wheel every Thursday morning. So if that gives me trouble – how am I supposed to keep track of all these chipping tips?

So what’s the true story about chipping around the green? How is it that the best Players in the world look so relaxed over the ball, make it look so easy and get just about everything into tap-in distance? While the Golfers at your local golf course set-up to the golf ball with a confused look on their face – almost as if they’re going through my recycling checklist (newspapers in the green container, plastic in the blue container, do the cans go in the white container and glass in the yellow container or is it glass in the white and cans in the yellow?)

And I believe that a lot of the mechanical swing thoughts that many Golfers wrestle with every time they’re around the green can be eliminated if you understood wrists or no wrists. If you watch a lot of great Players around the green – I believe that you’ll see more hand and wrist movement than a lot of Golfers think should be employed. Because the philosophy of having Firm Wrists has morphed into Tight Wrists for the majority of Golfers you see at your local golf courses. And Tight Wrists translates into ‘No Feel’. And ‘No Feel’ is the beginning of mass frustration.

Now, there always will be someone that writes to me saying – “I can’t believe you’re telling Golfers that they need to use their wrists! How can you call yourself a Golf Professional?” Now, I didn’t exactly say that the Golfer needs to use their wrists, but I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use them either. This is not an issue of it having to be “either black or white”. There can be a skillful combination of your hands, arms and body combining to produce a nice stroke.

We have found that there are two types of Golfers that struggle around the green – if you struggle around the green, you probably fit into one these two groups below:

Golfer 1: has the problem of trying to scoop underneath the golf ball. Often times hitting the ground before the golf ball and chunking or catching the top of the ball (because they’re scared of chunking) and skulling it across the green.

Golfer 2: used to have the problem of scooping under the golf ball, but was told they need to chip with no wrists. They were told that they need to keep their wrists locked as they make a pendulum stroke while being focused on making sure they swing the same distance back as they will swing forward.

Most Golfers start out as Golfer 1 and then are influenced into becoming Golfer 2. Though Golfer 2 will initially see success with this style of chipping – it may only be short-lived success. Because each time this technique works – Golfer 2 starts to focus more and more on locking their wrists tighter and tighter. And as tighter and tighter becomes the focus – the ‘Feel’ of your stroke begins to deteriorate as each chip becomes worse and worse.

Though after each subsequent bad shot, Golfer 2 will stay adamant about having to lock their wrists more and more – “I need to keep my right hand out of this shot!” – as they believe “that it has to be the wrists that are screwing me up”. So the next shot they’ll put their complete focus on holding the club tighter than their last shot. And after a few more unsuccessful chips – this Golfer’s grip on the golf club starts to resemble the hands of Hulk Hogan as he tightens his death grip around The Iron Sheik’s throat as the crowd pumps up and encourages Hogan with chants of “USA, USA, USA!”

This is an unfortunate scenario because by getting your grip too tight and locking your arms to the point that ‘Feel’ has nothing to do with the golf shot about to be played – you start to struggle more than you did when you were Golfer 1. Which then leads you down the path of no return. What’s that path? It starts with going on Amazon.com and ordering the latest Dave Pelz book.

By the way – there are over 270 used Dave Pelz books available for purchase on Amazon.com in addition to the thousands more available every Saturday at garage sales across North America – which maybe the best illustration to how unvaluable (not invaluable – unvaluable) they were to their original purchasers.

And as I climb down from my soap box, I’d like to say —

Let’s go back to the beginning of your problems around the green. How did you become too wristy in the first place? It most likely has to do with thinking you need to get underneath the golf ball to make it go up in the air. So you resort to trying to scoop the golf ball off the ground with the finesse of a short order cook in a New Jersey diner flipping silver dollar pancakes.

But alas, someone sees you struggling and shuffles over to you to allow you to bask in their knowledge of the golf swing. “You know, you’re using way too much wrists in that swing. You need to keep your wrists locked like I do and make a pendulum like swing.”

If you watch some of the great Players that play this game, you won’t see many use an excessive amount of wrist around the green, though at the same time – you won’t see many that have their wrists locked. Watch the best Players in the world and you might see them using more of their hands and wrists than even they’d like to admit they do. No, you won’t see them scooping under the golf ball where their wrists curl up after impact like many of the Golfer 1’s you see at the local golf courses. Though, you also won’t see the Hulk Hogan death grip, wrist lock, arms stiff as a 2×4 swing that you might see with many of your fellow Golfer 2’s at the local golf courses.

The Monkey has a chipping stroke that has all the finesse of a battle for the World Wrestling Federation World Championship

The Player knows that there needs to be a blend of feel and mechanics

Go ahead, Be a Player!

Regards,

Marc Solomon – Your Instructor For Life

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