Chipping Success - Eliminate Chunk Shots and Line Drives
Two of the most annoying chip shots that result when around the green are the "chunk shot" and the low line drive. The chunk shot is caused by hitting the ground before the ball, coupled with a decelerating swing, which usually results in a huge divot a ball that barely moves. The low line drive is caused by a fear of hitting the ground before the ball and results in the club striking the ball without hitting the ground at all and a line drive shot that skims across to the other side of the green (if you're lucky!).
The chunk shot's main cause is a slow downswing. While striking the ground too far before the ball is definitely a problem, with a strong downswing the ball should go somewhere so long as you don't strike the ground too far before the ball. The real culprit is double-guessing your swing speed and slowing up before contact is made. This causes your entire body to shift down and a massive slow down of the club when it makes contact with the ground.
The low line drive is similar. Instead though, golfers usually try to over-compensate for a slow downswing by consciously trying not to hit the ground before the ball, resulting in the clubface making contact about a third or half way up the ball. Again, the culprit is a second-guess of your swing speed on your downswing.
In both cases it can significantly help to swing with a normal powerful downswing and constant speed through contact. Now, obviously if you are only 15 or 20 yards from the green you cannot take a full swing. The key is to shorten your backswing. And usually you will need to shorten your backswing pretty significantly.
I'm talking about taking a backswing that is a quarter of your normal backswing. However, you still need to take your downswing as if you've gone all the way back. You cannot try to slow your swing on the way down to the ball. Doing so, again, will either cause you to drop your body and shoulders resulting in a chunk shot, or you will try to overcompensate by not hitting any ground and will hit a line drive.
Practice is easier said than done. Start off with a pitching wedge taking a full backswing and take a note mentally of how much effort you put into your downswing. Now, take a 3/4 backswing and swing with the same effort on your downswing. DO NOT try to over-compensate for the shorter backswing and try to swing harder on your downswing, that is defeating the purpose. After 3/4, try a half backswing, and finally a 1/4 backswing. You may need to practice with a friend or use a video recorder to ensure you really are shortening your backswing.
Again, the key is to always use the same effort on your downswing. This will ensure you are not slowing up and will eliminate the need to mentally try and over-compensate for a slower swing. Your downswing should remain consistent no matter what kind of shot you're attempting, what should change is the amount of backswing you take.