How to knock chips close every time
Shane Lowry has broken into the top 30 in the world – and his silky short game has played a key role in his meteoric rise (along with three European Tour victories and a WGC title).
He's a magician around the greens and his uncanny ability to get up and down from the most awkward of situations makes him the envy of many of his peers.
His skills with a wedge even earned him 2015 Shot of the Year on the European Tour, where he carved a shot through the trees to set up his Bridgestone win.
However, Lowry admits his technique isn't the best and stresses that only constant practice turned him into the man with the golden touch.
1 Make sure you put the time and effort in.
There's just no substitute for that. I spent a lot of time around the greens chipping when
I was a kid and I think that's where I've got my good short game from.
I still spend a lot of time on it – and I love doing it – and you can't beat that.
2 Good technique is not the be-all-and-end-all.
I'm not a great technical player, I never have been. As I say, I spend a lot of time on the chipping green and make sure I put the time in.
Obviously you need a decent technique, but with repetition you can have an imperfect one and still teach yourself to successfully and consistently get up and down.
3 Variety is definitely the spice of this part of golfing life.
I like trying different stuff and shots and my good friend Padraig Harrington is just the same.
You could stand there with a bag of balls and hit 100 chip shots in a row, but you need to vary it up and hit a variety of shots, including the hardest up and downs you can find, and keep doing it until you've mastered them all. Keep doing that and you'll be suitably rewarded on the course.
4 Keep it fun... but competitive.
Padraig and myself spend a lot of time together chipping against each other for $50 a time. You can't substitute that. It means something and it really sharpens you up. The first to 10 (closest to the hole) wins and we're about 50-50 at the moment. You might win 10-nil, but nobody has done that so far.
You need to enjoy it and you can do this with one or two of your friends. Another fun game is where you have nine holes and try and achieve nine up and downs with three hard, three medium and three easy shots. I'd aim for one or two over.
5 Work on your weaknesses.
Padraig might say he wants to work on 50-yarders that week so we'll have a few of those. Currently I feel that my neutral and my draw chip shots are quite good, but I feel I struggle to cut one into a back right flag from 20-30 yards and this is something I'm working on now.
I'm hitting chips with my pitching wedge because there's less loft on it, meaning you have to cut it a little bit more.
6 Have a favourite yardage.
The key is knowing exactly how far you hit your wedges: my favourite yardage would be a 110 and I'll probably hit that pin high nine times out of 10 and once you hit it pin high, you're always going to have a chance of making it.
7 Shorten your swing.
Playing in from 50-60 yards, you see a lot of amateurs make a long swing and decelerate and end up either duffing or thinning it.
You should have a short swing with a lot of speed, taking the club back to nine o'clock and driving through it.
8 In greenside bunkers, you've got to pick a landing area.
You see a lot of amateurs trying to lift the ball in the air, but you've got to focus on getting your weight on the left side and aiming a little bit square at the target.
You see guys aiming too far left and chopping across the ball, which leads to an inconsistent strike. Square up your stance, weight on your left side and go from there.
9 Sometimes, you've just got to take your medicine.
I see a lot of amateurs dropping shots going for the career shot when even I'd be very happy to get the ball within 10ft – you've got to be realistic.
For amateurs, get it within 20ft and you've got a chance of a putt. You don't have to try and hole every shot around the green – you need to give yourself the best chance of holing the putt, so look at where you want to leave yourself and take into account whether it's likely to be an uphill or downhill putt.