Last week the Open at Royal Birkdale we were treated us to one of the greatest finishes in a major in a long long time. If you were lucky enough to have watched it, you witnessed one of the world’s best players totally lose his game, down by 1 stroke, and then like magic, he flipped a switch to finish birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par to win by 3. We are of course talking about Jordan Speith.
Jordan started the day with a 3 stroke lead and after a 100 yard slice on number 13 into the fescue, he was about to surrender the lead to Kutcher. Any rational person at this point saw that this was the final dagger in Jordan’s bid to win the Open. Jordan took an unplayable lie then shot short of the green and got up and down for a great bogey. Everyone was talking about the 8 footer he made for bogey as the turning point but I would like to argue that it was his chip to 8 feet that we should be talking about.
Jordan faced a 15 yard chip, up hill, over a bunker, that had to get up and over a ridge in front of the pin. Not easy to do at any time but under the pressure of the Open and knowing that if he doesn’t get it up and down, his chances of winning would probably be gone, as his momentum and moral would have hit rock bottom for the round.
So what does Jordan do? nips a perfect chip with perfect weight setting up the 8 foot putt for bogey. For me, this was the key shot on hole 13 that made bogey possible and then sent him into history.
What can we learn from this? Learn to chip! People would often say, “who would you pick to make a putt if your life depended on it?” Jack and Tiger were the names most commonly brought up. However, “who would you pick to make a chip if your life depended on it?” I pick Jordan Speith. His chipping is off the charts and is a big reason why he is so good. You want to improve your game big time? Again, learn to chip!
The best chippers play the ball back in their stance, feet close together with weight favouring the front foot. Hands are off the front thigh. The chip swing primarily uses shoulders holding the left wrist through impact. DO NOT FLICK THE WRISTS ALLOWING THE LEFT WRIST TO BREAk DOWN as this is the most common error by poor chippers.
Finally, to become a great chipper you need to log the hours to perfect your technique and gain confidence. I promise you that once you perfect the technique you will automatically lower your scores and enjoy the game so much more. Jordan Speith was small in stature as a junior and learned at a young age that chipping and putting can be the great equalizer over size. In fact, chipping and putting is arguably more important than size and distance.
If you are looking to get better, shave a few strokes off your handicap, or just learning the game, learn to chip…and you will be on your way to… playing Your best golf!