A little short game goes a LONG way (Jason Dufner & Rickie Fowler)

For the first installment of #What Winners Do, we’re going to take a look at two champs from this past week, Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler. Anyone who watched the live telecast can identify which area of their games brought home the trophy… CHIPPING.

Early every golf season and right after the Seahawks finish, I get a bad case of golf fever and watch a ton of golf so having Careerbuilders on during the day and Abu Dahbi in the evening is just heaven. As I watch, I can’t help but notice how much emphasis commentators put on a player’s swing. All week, in both events I constantly heard about “face awareness” or “face/plane transition”. If I were an amateur watching this, my head would be spinning, I’d jump on you tube and see if I had proper “face/plane transition.” As a teaching professional, I laugh, knowing that it simply suggests if your club face is square and if you can tell when you swing. There is no secret drill to acquire face awareness, it comes from a lot of positive practice.

What I did find impressive was how big of a role chipping played in the outcome of each event. Rickie Fowler holed two chips en route to his final round 69. Dufner had multiple clutch up and downs including his incredible save on the 17th ( HOW’D THAT NOT GO IN!). In statistical terms, you can see where they gained strokes. In 2015, Rickie was 47th on tour in scrambling (up & downs) at 61% and for the week at Abu Dahbi he got up and down at a clip of 72%. Rickie hit 52 of 72 greens and converted 14 times. This was 2 strokes better than his 2015 average and adding in his two chip – ins, and that four strokes for the week. Don’t think that’s a lot? Four shots drops Rickie back to T-5 for the tournament and doesn’t get him in the “fantastic four” of the world rankings.

Dufner’s stats are even better. In 2015 he was 162th in scrambling, converting just over 50%. In the final round of the Careerbuilder’s he was 6 for 7 (85%) and 16/19 for the week. Drop that down to his 50% average of 2015 and you lose almost 6 strokes… or just a cool $880,000 in prize money… no big deal.

When we analyze their chipping motion, they are practically identical. In fact, most chipping motions of all tour professionals are incredibly similar. Regardless of the variations we see with each players full swing

[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D1X 2003/01/10 13:18:58.6 JPEG (8-bit) Fine Image Size: Large (3008 x 1960) Color Lens: 80-200mm f/2.8-2.8 D Focal Length: 80mm Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority Metering Mode: Center-Weighted 1/350 sec - f/5.6 Exposure Comp.: -0.3 EV Sensitivity: ISO 125 White Balance: Direct sunlight AF Mode: AF-S Tone Comp: Normal Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain Auto Flash Mode: New TTL Color Mode: Mode I (sRGB) Hue Adjustment: 0° Sharpening: Normal Noise Reduction: Image Comment: [#End of Shooting Data Section] very, very  rarely do we see changes to the chipping technique. Here are a few things you can take away from watching the video of Rickie and Jason:

1.) WEIGHT FORWARD – Both players have positioned the ball back in their stance and the weight forward. This is to ensure that the club strikes down on the ball allowing the loft to get the ball up in the air.

2.) SLIGHT WRIST SET – Both players set their wrists slightly in the back swing. This allows for a bit more leverage, more compression through the shot and overall better flow and feel to the shot.

3.) HANDS LEAD THE CLUB THROUGH IMPACT – This, without a doubt is the most important factor in chipping well and consequently, the most flawed part of most amateur chipping stroke. Leading with the hands ensures that the leading edge of the club will strike down into the ground instead of flipping up and hitting the ball thin. Flipping the hand through the shot will cause the bottom of the club to hit first and the “bounce” will literally bounce IMG_4562-lgthe club face back into the ball causing those nauseating worm burners chasing across the green.


– In the video, look at how Dufner has tilted his shoulders up to adjust to the slope. This is to adjust his swing arc so the club bottoms in the proper position. If he came in with flat or regular shoulders, the club would bottom out well behind the ball causing a fat shot.



I hope this helps your chipping and takes your scores lower. If you’d like to learn more about chipping or any other part of the game, I’d love to help!