Chip and Pitch Shot Instruction to Learning
As a former Golf Teaching Professional, I found that students enjoyed hitting balls with their driver and other clubs to see how far they could hit. They just loved to be on the range hitting golf balls, bucket after bucket. I explained to my students that the driver is used for only about 16% of all golf shots, but pitching, chipping, and putting made up around 47% of all shots. When the students shifted their allotment of practice time to the short game, they were thrilled at how much their accuracy and scores improved. Anyone who wants to be more accurate at chipping and pitching the golf ball to lower scores, must spend more time around the practice greens than on the range. It is an aspect of the game of golf that is often overlooked, but time well spent chipping and pitching will take any golfer to the next level.
The Essential Landing Zone System (ELZS) is a method for calculating the approximate landing zone when chipping and pitching the golf ball onto the green to the hole. The system is available as a mobile app and as a charting system booklet. ELZS is now designed and contained inside an easy, quick and informative app that all golfers can use on the course when chipping and pitching.
The ELZS was first designed using printed material for easy access from your back pocket or golf bag in the form of four table charts representing four different greenspeeds that any golfer can easily use as a reference guide to perform better around the greens. The four charts serve as visual aids to help golfers quickly assess the landing zone before they perform their shots. There is a complete detailed instruction manual that serves as a step-by-step guide and provides additional information that golfers will find useful when using the printed ELZS Charts, which are highly recommended. The complete guide can be found on the app as a link under ‘Learn’ or on the website essentiallandingzonesystems.com.
There are four distinct ELZS Charts for: 1) Slow Greens, 2) Fast Greens, 3) Super Quick Greens, and 4) Ultra-Fast Greens. The four ELZS table charts are geared around different green speeds of: Slow, Fast, Super Quick, and Ultra-Fast.
Below is a small sample size of a slow ELZS chart. The new app contains all the same necessary information needed to provide a player with accurate approximations of where the landing zone needs to be when calculating chip and pitch shots around the green.
The design principles around ELZS are derived data. It combines all of the following data elements: golf club lofts/degrees, different green speeds, soft hands when gripping club when chipping or pitching, ball type, and a landing zone of approximately 6 by 6 feet which creates a 36 sq ft rectangle. Imagine a red carpet with these dimensions for the essential landing zone, which we call RC6², figure 1 below.
The image above represents the RC6², which is in thirds. The middle third is the center of the approximated landing zone. We call it Zone Zero (ZZ). The front and back one third are called Zone Ones (Z1). Z1’s in the RC6² represent one yard on either side of Zone Zero. If we use the fast chart sample above with a selection of 18 yards for distance, 56 or 54 degree wedge, and fast greens. The landing zone or ZZ is approximately 9.0 yards away from the ball. In addition, ELZS margin of error allows for missing the landing zone by one yard on either side of 9.0 yards, which are Z1’s and remember there is a width of 2 yards to work with also. The shot can land on or inside Z1 8.0 to 9.0 yards. On the other side, the shot can land on or between 9.0 and 10.0 yards inside Z1. This still allows for a very accurate chip or pitch shot. Landing shots between 8.0 and 9.0 will have balls rolling short or very close to hole (3ft). Whereas, balls landing just pass 9.0 and inside 10.0 will leave shot just pass hole (3ft). On those really nice shots even seeing some being made. ELZS’s built in margin of error when chipping and pitching provides the golfer’s eyes and mind with a large landing zone, which enhances confidence and performance.
The ELZS’s landing zone size gives the golfer plenty of margin of error, versus landing the golf ball on a “dime” for the landing spot, which has a very low margin of error. Most golfers have been taught to find the smallest spot to land the golf ball on when chipping and pitching. This way of chipping and pitching only leads to frustration and stress.
Let's get started using the Essential Landing Zone Systems app. The ELZS app is convenient to use on the course, easy to operate, quick to use, adaptive, fun, and most importantly it provides informative approximations of the landing zones when chipping and pitching.
The ELZS’s App has a central screen that only needs three pieces of information to be inputted. The first piece of important information is the distance from ball to hole (this can be calculated using yards, feet, or meters). The next piece of important information is the green speeds of the course being played (ex. Slow, Fast, Super Quick, or Ultra Fast). And the last piece of information needed is the club type going to be played for a particular chip or pitch shot (ex. 56 degree wedge, pitching wedge, 8 iron, or even a 5 iron or lower).
Once the distance, club selection, and green speed has been determined, just select those choices within the RC6² landing zone screen shown below. The ELZS extrapolates the input data and calculates the approximate landing zone for your planned chip or pitch shot. The approximated landing zone will show within seconds inside the RC6² landing zone screen.
For example, if you had a chip shot of 18 yards to the hole, playing on fast greens (stimpmeter reading around 10), and wanted to use your 9 iron; ELZS will calculate that information and approximate the landing zone of 7.5 yards away from where the ball lies for this particular shot planned. As shown in the app screen below.
The advantage of this system allows for a margin of error of 1 yard on each end of the 7.5 landing zone, as explained earlier. Still allowing for the golf ball to end up close to the hole. The ELZS eliminates the huge problem of guessing where to land the ball.
The Essential Landing Zone Systems can be used extensively around the greens during practice rounds, USGA events (printed charts), club championships, and tour competitions (printed charts). The ELZS is in compliance with the requirements of the Rules of Golf (USGA Rule 4-3) and the R & A Rules of Golf.
To start using the ELZS app, start first at your local course short game practice facility. The following information will assist in a rapid learning curve of the Essential Landing Zone Systems.
The ELZS app also includes a course directory which allows you to calculate landing zones at specific courses, where green speeds have already been determined. To find these courses, click the menu icon and then select ‘Courses’. If you do not see your course, simply click the plus button to request for your course to be added to our directory. After your course is added, you can then go to your profile, edit profile, and add it as your ‘Home Course’ for easy access to the landing zones.
The ultimate goal when chipping and pitching is to land the ball within or as close to the landing zone as possible, then have the ball roll out to the hole, preferably, to our first preference which is inside a one-yard circumference of the hole or in the cup. The second-best preference would be a two-yard circumference of the hole, and our last preference is a three-yard circumference of the hole. Let’s envision three imaginary circumferences around the hole:
A circle of zero to three feet, with zero being in the cup
A circle of three feet to six feet
A circle of six feet to nine feet.
The integral component of the ELZS is getting the golf ball as close to the hole as possible or even chipping or pitching the ball in the cup on those sweet occasions. Shown below are eGolfRings that provide excellent feedback when chipping, pitching, and putting.
The Essential Landing Zone System took considerable time and effort to calibrate and develop. While developing ELZS, only three-piece construction golf balls were used to ensure consistency of performance. There is better performance around the greens with three-piece construction golf balls. Three-piece balls spin better and roll out softer; they just have a softer feel than other constructed two-piece distance balls. When you start using the ELZS, try to make sure all practice balls are of the same construction as the golf balls you typically play when on the course, no matter the manufacture. By doing this you will be more apt to get consistent performance from chipping and pitching and eliminate different variables.
The problem of where the ball needs to land and roll out to get close to the hole when chipping and pitching is a familiar one and has been addressed in articles, books, and videos. The Essential Landing Zone System differs in having a visual conceptual tool kit guide that can assist in approximating the landing zone for shots around the greens. The best way to control distances when chipping and pitching is to use different clubs and then learn the distance ratio for each club in your bag. The ELZS is based on the approximate percentage ratio of yards the golf ball is in the air and how many yards it is on the ground. Below is an example of a chip shot with the LZ at approximately 2 yards and with the approximate roll out of the different clubs on a relatively Fast Green.
The Essential Landing Zone System makes it much easier to land the golf ball on the landing zone closest to you. So, when using the Essential Landing Zone app, always try to choose the landing zone that is closest to you, because it will land the ball a few yards on the green for a smooth rollout to the hole. By using this approach, the ELZS will eliminate guesswork, help lower anxiety, and decrease the amount of time needed for shots around the greens. In short, it will significantly improve short game consistency when chipping and pitching.
Learning the Essential Landing Zone Systems will lower scores, handicaps, and make the game of golf fun for all levels, especially junior players. The ELZS is a great learning game for juniors learning how to land the golf ball on the green within an imaginary landing zone and having the golf ball roll out to the desired distance close to the hole. The ELZS will help junior golfers with their visual-spatial awareness and imagination development when performing these shots around the green.
One of the most beneficial elements of the Essential Landing Zone System is that you don’t have to be precise or perfect with the landing spot. Just being accurate counts.
These practice sessions will also provide invaluable constructive feedback that will encourage positive growth in this aspect of your game. Knowing that you don't have to be precise with chipping and pitching will help reduce stress, which translates into better performance, consistency, more confidence, lower scores, and more fun on the course.
Once you feel comfortable with your practice sessions and the use of the ELZS, it is time to find the landing zones on the course greens. To find the landing zones (LZ) out on the greens without tees and a ball marker forming your landing zone, you must have keen eyes and ample imagination.
You must lock in your focus once you’ve paced off LZ from one of the four charts being used. Lock in on any odd visual objects or formations within your LZ. It could be a specific discoloration on the green that stands out for you, an old cut cup that has been replaced, a dead leaf, an insect, a dusting of sand from a previous sand bunker shot, a playing partners ball maker, or even mower wheel line depressions left by the grounds crew.
Any object that you can visually fix your eyes and mind on to form your landing zone is imperative for successful chip and pitch shots within the ELZS.
The main objective when chipping and pitching is visually focusing the mind on the landing zone itself. Two clinical psychologists, the late Dr. Michael Smith and Dr. Ronald W. Banks, have both helped their clients improve their mental focus, mental clarity, and mental processes. According to Dr. Smith, one way to improve athletic performance is the use of visualization. Some examples of visualization include picturing the golf shot in the mind's eye before you perform the shot, picturing yourself being successful, “seeing” yourself landing the golf ball within the RC6² and rolling out to the imaginary three circumferences surrounding the hole. Provide your mind with images of past successes that can be recalled for positive reinforcement. Also, block out external distractions by focusing on the task at hand, make proper mental decisions before the golf shot and be committed to that decision 100%, and focus the subconscious mind by closing your eyes for a few seconds seeing the shot in detail or focusing on a small specific target in preparation of the golf shot (Smith).
Dr. Banks explains that some aspects of an athlete's sports performance could improve by increasing one's overall mental power and mental sharpness. Using positive visualization, meditation, positive self-talk, blocking out negative stimuli, eliminating self-doubt, and being mindful of your thoughts by catching and eliminating those negative thoughts that can creep up while performing. If some if not all of these mental approaches were incorporated, practiced, and maintained, an athlete's sports performance would drastically improve overall, particularly on the mental chess side of golf.
Dr. Banks notes that guided imagery has been used for centuries as a medical therapy. Visualization was first applied to sports performance in the mid 1980’s. Guided visualization or imagery is rehearsing a skill, routine, or performance in your mind’s eye to program your body for success in your athletic endeavor. Banks points out that there is a distinct difference between visualization and guided imagery. Visualization involves creating a mental picture of success in your specific sport. Sports-guided visualization or guided imagery allows the athlete to not only employ the visual experience to athletic success, but also activates the holistic sensory movement or kinesthetic experience, utilizing all five of our senses.
As Banks points out, humans have a neural system that allows neurons to fire and the brain to build connections when observing actions and while performing specific actions. The stronger those neural connections are, the greater your ability to utilize guided imagery and visualization to improve your athletic performance. There are two keys to effective imagery: vividness and controllability. Good imagers can utilize all their senses to make their images as vivid and detailed as possible. Improved performance is the result.
Professional and amateur athletes alike, have reported benefits to their mental state when including guided imagery/visualization as a part of their pre-performance workout routine. They experience less nervousness and are less anxious approaching events because “they’ve already been there” and seen themselves performing just the way they wanted to…or even better. By decreasing performance anxiety and fear of failure, their focus and ability to “shut out” the crowd is improved and their overall confidence in their ability to perform is markedly improved (Banks).
Practice chipping and pitching at a facility where you often play and are familiar with the greens. If you aren’t sure about green speeds at your course or the practice area, ask your PGA Head Professional or the Head Golf Course Superintendent at your course for the information. They will be more than happy and willing to share the stimpmeter speed readings for your course greens and even the dominant type of grass that grows on and around the green complexes. This information plays a large role in your approach to chipping and pitching.
Find a flat quiet area of the green so you can focus. Give yourself a decent lie to practice on, with nice short grass, no medium or long rough to start. Then drop 8 to 10 golf balls off the green at around 7 to 10 yards.
Pace off 20 yards (60 feet) from where the balls lie to a hole. You may also use a tee or any other object as the hole. Once you’ve determined the stimpmeter green speed for your greens, select that information in the app’s central RC6² screen, from the following options: Slow, Fast, Super Quick or Ultra Fast.
Note: The Essential Landing Zone System will have around 90 percent of the chip and pitch shots landing on the green to avoid any bad bounces. Try to have the landing zone as close to you as possible, depending on the situation. After the ball descends onto the green, it will roll just like a putt. There are going to be times when the fringe or short grass around the green complex will be the landing zone.
This next example, we will use slow green speed with a stimpmeter readings of 8 to 9. With a distance of 20 yards, then find Club Selection for Pitching Wedge (PW). Use this data to input into the ELZS app central RC6² screen. As shown below.
The ELZS app then calculates this data at 10.0 yards as the approximate landing zone for the pitching wedge when chipping or pitching from 20 yards (60 feet; 18.29 meters) away from the hole. When pitching from 20 yards away from the hole, the golf ball needs to fly approximately 10.0 yards to the landing zone on the green, and then roll another 10 yards to the hole.
To further ingrain ELZS into your game, we are going to set up a learning station on the short game practice green. Using the example above, you will need eight tees and a visible ball marker that you can see from afar.
Pace off 10 yards away from the golf balls on your intended target line towards the hole, and stop at the 10-yard mark. Where you stand is the ultimate approximate landing zone for the ball to descend and roll out to the hole. There, at the 10.0 LZ, place your ball marker on your intended line with the hole. We call this area the “Zero Zone (ZZ)” in the middle third of the LZ. You will now need the eight tees to configure your total landing zone learning station.
Next, place two tees at the nine-yard mark and two yards apart. The first third front of the landing zone area is called “Zone One (Z1).” Place two more tees, two yards apart at 11 yards at the back end third of the landing zone. This third is also called “Zone One.” The last four tees should be aligned to form the middle third of the rectangle on the green surface with the ball marker in the center, defining the rectangle into thirds.
The first third is Zone One, the second third is Zone Zero and the last third is Zone One. These zones form the total approximate landing zone area for chip and pitch shots. Refer to figure 1.
Below in photo is Essential Landing Zone System’s RC6² take anywhere imaginary swivel pivot red carpet. The four lightweight (2.75 oz) right angles swivel to pivot into straight lines which easily fit nicely into your golf bag. No matter if you are using tees or the RC6² right angles to form the landing zone, the only objective in this landing zone practice session is landing shots strategically within the parameters of the RC6² and as close as possible to the ball marker middle section zone zero (ZZ).
Enjoy the journey to improvement in chipping and pitching, lower scores, and having fun doing it.
Positive growth will come with practice learning and ingraining the ELZS into your game. Along with honing your chipping and pitching skills, you’ll need to be patient, and determined. Above all, you’ll need to just thoroughly enjoy the game. And when you do that, the game will cherish you back many times over.
Enjoy the journey of a lifetime to improvement and lower scores.
From the team at ELZS, Thank You!
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