Skills Development: Chipping & Backswing Principles

This morning, first semester students were out at Ken McDonald for Skills Development. This is something we do periodically throughout the semester to practice the skills that we have learned in either Golf Fundamentals or Mechanics of the Short Game. For 27 guys of varying skill levels, it can get a little out of hand at times.

PGA Instructor Warren Pittman demonstrates the proper chipping motion.
PGA Instructor Warren Pitman demonstrates the proper chipping motion.

First, we worked on chipping with PGA Instructor Warren Pitman. Warren showed us traditional chipping before teaching us the toe-down method discussed in class and highlighted by the recent Golf Channel Academy segment with Jim Furyk. It’s a strange feeling to hit a chip shot like you’re hitting a putt. The grip is the same, and the stroke is the same. But the ball comes off the face with very little spin. I think this will be an effective shot under pressure, because with a little more practice, it’ll be almost impossible to hit fat or thin.

PGA Instructor Jay Friedman quizzes us on the eight backswing principles on the eve of our midterm exam.
PGA Instructor Jay Friedman tests our knowledge of the eight backswing principles. The Golf Fundamentals midterm exam is tomorrow.

After that, we joined PGA Instructor Jay Friedman out on the driving range for a review and visual demonstration of the eight backswing principles on the eve of tomorrow’s midterm exam. It was a great review, and it was helpful to see the principles out on the range and how they affected distance, direction, or both. Here again, are the eight backswing principles (and what they influence):

* Swing Center (distance/direction)
* Dynamic Balance (distance/direction)
* Swing Plane (direction)
* Width of Arc (distance)
* Length of Arc (distance)
* Position (direction)
* Lever System (distance)
* Connection (distance/direction)

Playing Ability Test
Each semester, the Golf Academy gives students the opportunity to take a Playing Ability Test (PAT) like the one required to become a PGA Class A Professional. This semester, the target score was 153, and the test was played over two days at Oakwood Golf Club in Sun Lakes. Round one was played last Monday in the pouring rain. I shot a five over par 77, but was very pleased because of the weather. It was cold and wet – easily the worst conditions I have ever played in. If you pass the test in any of your four semesters either through the Academy or through the PGA of America, you get a Player’s Credential Ribbon at graduation. I needed a 76 or better today to pass the test this semester, but I shot a disappointing 78. The good news is that I figured out a way to hit my driver under pressure. The bad news is that by the time I did, it was too little, too late. I’ll give it another try next semester.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. The toe down chip has been great for me since I started using it a couple of weeks ago. I used it three times in today’s round and had tap-in up and downs. This is an EXCELLENT tool to have!!!!

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