The 17th green at Manhattan Woods Golf Club is a devilish one. There’s water left and a bunker long, and if you bail out to the right, you might find yourself with a daunting downhill chip, such as the one I have here. In addition to the downhill lie, you must also contend with the rough, and the green slopes hard toward the water on the opposite side. It’s a challenging shot that takes all of the nerve and finesse you’ve got but is certainly manageable with the proper setup and swing adjustments.

Another critical element to this shot is that you must let the clubhead release through the grass. It’s not a normal, tight-lie chip where the handle stays in front of the clubhead through impact. In this instance, the clubhead beats the handle to the ball (above). Loft is your friend. Here’s how to get it. —With Dave Allen


Spread your feet wider apart than you would for a normal chip and distribute more weight left. This makes it easier to align your hips and shoulders parallel to the downhill slope. Make sure to set the handle slightly back, and play the ball forward of center in your stance (above). This will increase the effective loft on the club. It also helps to grip down to the middle of the grip because this shortens the club and promotes a steeper angle of attack into the ball.


Maintain the weight on your lead leg as you take the club back, which encourages you to swing down in the direction of the hill. Note the early wrist set and the angle between my lead arm and shaft (above). This promotes a steeper angle of descent into the ball with speed, imparting more spin so that the ball comes out higher and softer. The steeper the approach, the less grass you catch between the face and ball and the more you can spin it.


The purpose of dropping the handle back at address is to help the clubhead release past your hands sooner, adding loft to the clubface and the shot. Your right palm and clubface should point to the sky shortly after impact (above). Provided you maintain the loft on the face and the flex in your left knee, and you swing the clubhead along the slope, the ball should come out with enough spin to hold the green and leave you a putt for par.

JASON BIRNBAUM, a Golf Digest Best Teacher in New York, is director of instruction at Manhattan Woods Golf Academy in West Nyack.

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