Skills Development: Specialty Chip Shots

We began the day out at the Ken McDonald Golf Course in Tempe for a Skills Development session on specialty chip shots: the bladed wedge and the hybrid chip shot. We learned about the shots last week in Advanced Elements of the Short Game, but it’s one thing to learn about a shot in a classroom and another thing to execute it out on the golf course.

PGA Professional Warren Pitman
A hybrid gets the ball rolling through the rough and along the top of the grass.

I think with a little practice, these shots could prove pretty effective. I like the bladed wedge if your ball is either up against the fringe or buried in fluffy grass. If you have a closely-mown area between you and the hole, I think the hybrid chip works best. It’s a higher percentage shot than say using a lob or a sand wedge because the ball just rolls along the top of the grass. I practiced shorter shots with my hybrid using my putting grip and longer shots (to a hole location farther away) using my chipping grip. Admittedly, this is still very much a work in progress but fun to practice nonetheless.

Golf Club Assembly & Repair
We’re really close to getting our hands dirty in Golf Club Assembly & Repair! Before we get to installing grips for the first time next week, PGA Professional Gary Balliet, guided us through another tour of the golf grip. Who knew there was so much to learn about the grip? Then again, it’s your only physical connection to the golf club, so it’s pretty important! Here are a few tidbits from today’s class:

The grip is essentially made up of three parts: the mouth, the core, and the grip cap. The three main grips sizes you can buy at the store are a .580 or 580, a .600 or 600, and a .620 or 620.

If you’re trying to increase the size of the standard golf grip (.900 for men; .850 for women), there are three things you can do: install a smaller-sized grip core onto a larger shaft butt; add extra layers of wrap or masking tape; or buy a bigger grip (bah dum dum, Balliet). Each wrap adds a fraction of an inch to the size of the grip.

* One wrap = 1/64″(.015)
* Two wraps = 1/32″ (.030)
* Three wraps = 3/64″ (.045)
* Four wraps = 1/16″ (.060)
The Midsize grips you see in stores are essentially .945s (three wraps) right out of the box. You may have seen jumbo grips too, which are somewhere in the neighborhood of .990 (six wraps).

Of course, you can also make a grip smaller. To do that, you can stretch the grip 3/4″ to 1″ when you install it, or again, you can buy a smaller grip.

PGA Professional Gary Balliet demonstrates
PGA Professional Gary Balliet demonstrates the way to locate the bend/kick point on any golf club.

I’ve learned more about golf shafts over the course of the last two weeks than I have my entire life. All shafts have a kick point, more commonly referred to in the industry as the bend point. It’s approximately 1.7″ in length. To find the bend point of your shaft, find the point at which you can balance the club with your index finger. That’s the bend point. The higher the bend/kick point, the stiffer the shaft. A high bend/kick point means the ball will come off low. A low bend/kick point means the ball will come off high.

Torque is defined as the shaft’s resistance to twisting during the swing. Consider the following shaft characteristics:

Torque = Low
Flex = X (Extra Stiff)
Weight = Heavy
Bend/Kick Point = High (ball low)
Type of Player = Tour Pro

Torque = High
Flex = A (Senior) or L (Ladies)
Weight = Light
Bend/Kick Point = Low (ball high)
Type of Player = Female Golfer

Then you have parallel shafts and tapered shafts. A parallel shaft has a tip diameter of .335 (woods), .350 (woods), or .370 (irons). A tapered shaft has a tip diameter of .355.

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