Master the downhill chip

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Greens become firmer and slicker in the summer, and getting up-and-down becomes a tough assignment any time you leave yourself above the hole. However, you can increase your chances of a successful downhill chip with the right strategy. Here are six things to consider when faced with this shot. 

Focus on your landing zone
The ball will naturally run away from you, so it’s vital that the ball pitches at a point that accommodates this run-out. This is usually on the portion of the green closest to you. Make it a zone, as hitting a single spot is tough and adds pressure.

Use more loft to generate spin
Normally you want a low launch and spinless strike with a straighter faced club for a running shot. But when it’s very fast, a lofted wedge is often the best option. It affords a firmer strike and creates more backspin that enables the ball to check slightly before releasing.

Make your practice stroke a replica
One of the hardest things about this delicate shot is creating a tempo that is purposeful yet gentle. Use your practice swings to drum in to yourself the pace, length and feel of the swing that will carry the ball to your pictured landing zone.

Move the target towards you
When the shot is really fast, forget the real pin and instead play to an imaginary one three or four feet closer to you. Then, it will still finish pretty close if the shot gets away from you.

Consider a toe strike
The ball comes off the face slower from the toe than the sweetspot. This more dead-feeling contact is an option on very fast chips, but you do lose spin as well. Only use this if you’ve practised it.

Upslope or downslope?
If playing from an upslope, the ball will launch higher and land softer; if you are on a downslope, it will launch lower and land hotter. Take this into account when selecting your club and landing spot.