Tom Tucker is a World Golf Teachers and United States Golf Teacher Federation-certified golf instructor. He may be contacted via his website or at the Plum Creek driving range in Batavia, NY.

I just saw a tip on chipping that inspired me to reinforce my views on chipping to my readers. My chipping method may be a little non-traditional, but it works very well.

The video tip I saw was one with a young assistant pro demonstrating a “ladder drill” with his chipping stroke. First thing I want to say is that this kid had good intentions, he was simply parrotting a drill that he had been taught and was passing it along. The problem is that very few of these kids have the temerity to question anything they’re taught, they just pass it along.

Some eventually develop their own way of doing things that are improvments on the time worn way of doing certain techniques, and good for them. As I’ve said before, there are a lot of different ways to hit certain shots, and it’s up to you to settle on a method that suits your body and your brain.

The “ladder drill” that was being demonstrated was a drill where there was a horizontal ladder on the ground representing different areas where the chip should land in order for it to roll out longer or shorter. It wasn’t actually a ladder, rather there were several clubs laid out to define the landing spots.

The problem that I have with this drill is that for chipping, we always want the ball on the ground as soon as possible so that it can begin it’s roll to the hole on the green. The wind is not our friend in golf, so when we chip we want the ball on the ground quickly unless unusual circumstances exist.

Chip shots should be imagined in the same context as a long putt. In other words, total distance control is the primary consideration. We should be imagining the feeling of the stroke that will allow the ball to land on the green and roll out a certain distance; not a feeling of specifically where the ball will land. If you practice enough, your instincts will take care of carrying the ball onto the green. Think about the roll out.

I’m not implying that where the ball lands is a non-factor, I’m saying that your imagination should be concerned with the feeling of total distance control first and foremost. That’s keeping it simple, which is always the best option in the golf swing.

Imagining the feel for total distance control versus where the ball will land are two different feelings. Allow the distance feeling to be the primary feeling..

I teach a dead handed chipping stroke that always checks and runs with a consistent checking characteristic. When this stroke is practiced with the same mindset that you use when you develop your “core” putting stroke, you will develop a masterful feeling for distance control. When you can control your chipping distance with precision, you own your game.

Now, I could understand a ladder drill using a vertical ladder like the one you use in the backyard game called “Ladderball” (google it for images). You absolutely need to have an awareness for the height of your shot and the landing area when you need to hit a shot over an object or an elevated area of the rough.

To be precise, this higher trajectory greenside shot is more of a mini pitch shot than a chip, and the stroke method that applies is different from the chipping stroke.

So …. practice your dead hand chipping stroke with distance control as your “go to” chipping method, just make sure that your club of choice allows your ball to land on the green with a low trajctory.

For a higher, softer landing greenside shot, practice mini pitch shots with a short vertical ladder like the one usede in the “Ladderball” game to get a feel for trajectory control. For this type of shot your landing area is also very important, because obviously the higher you hit it the less it will roll out, so pay attention.

Love your practice, enjoy your golf,