Watch Stuart Smith put three different spins on a chip using the same club, then read our feature with him and enter the competition to win a short game lesson.
A golf coach who has studied the short game for the past 10 years believes his new book will change the way golfers look at their game and massively reduce handicaps — Deputy sports editor RUSSELL CLAYDON caught up with Stuart Smith to find out how.
‘I’m going to ask you a question and you’re going to give me the wrong answer.’
It was a challenge I fell right into, of course, and it is likely that, just as my dad did that evening, so will you.
‘What does the loft of the club dictate?’ Continued Stuart Smith, the owner of a golfing academy which covers clubs at Cornard Tye, Thetford, Feltwell and Royston, and who is also now an author of what could just prove to be a book which changes your golf forever.
‘Height’, I reply which is, inevitably, exactly the thing he wanted me to say.
“Everyone says height,” he quickly replies with a smirk. “But it is not, it is the roll, it’s energy.
“The seven iron rolls more than a sand wedge.
“Yes, the sand wedge goes higher, but that is a pure effect. The reason why you would use a sand iron over a seven iron is because you have less green to work with.
“And once they understand that, their chipping improves.
“And now they’ve got the seven steps in the book and if they go through those seven steps, they can see the shot differently.”
Not only does Seven Steps to Chipping Heaven load you up with what the 41-year-old from Haverhill terms a bag of ‘options’, it can also lead to you becoming deadly from 100 yards.
The short game is neglected by most of us, but focusing on it can unlock potential you did not even know you had, according to the man who preached his theory to the crowds from the main stage at The London Golf Show last month, a gig he got after establishing himself as an expert on the game golfers forgot.
“If they practise it, I could help them drop it (handicap) massively,” he said. “If I was to caddy for anyone today, they would shoot their best score.
“From around the green I could tell them exactly where to land it for it to run up towards the hole.
“Once they know that, around the green they get it close a lot of the time.”
Talk is cheap in golf though, where everyone can think they know best, so we head out on to the deserted chipping green (and how often do you see someone on it?) at Thetford.
Smith is so confident in what he does he agrees to use my clubs, which were handed down by my grandad, to demonstrate what he can do.
On just his third chip from the rough from around 10 yards and he holes it. Wow.
Of course, getting me to do the same is the real test, and I was the perfect challenge for him, having not played for a good two months since the nights drew in.
But in just 45 minutes, which included using one of his two best selling training aids to line me up properly (apparently, I do still have ‘alignment issues’ but this is a problem for another day), there is a definite improvement in what I am able to do.
And, most importantly, do you know that shot you see on the television, the one where they chip it high on to the green and it almost stuns dead? Yes, I did a version of that (though it did take several attempts).
Smith himself can only be described as a magician around the green, showing me how he can put six different spins on the same chip and even calculate hitting into a hill to push the ball up the rough and down the other side. Now, that was magic.
And who taught him? Paul Daniels? Well, no-one, in fact.
“The only time I was told anything was when I was 14 and this old boy walked past and said about landing it in the third and quarter with different clubs,” he said. “From there I built it up, working how to control the energy.”
He added: “It gave me options. And once you have options you are fine.”
So what now for the man who has the ball on a bit of string around the green?
Well, he hopes to one day be teaching the top players on the European Tour a thing or two about the art of chipping (he says Lee Westwood is one player he can help).
“They don’t chip it as close now as they used to as they can’t generate as much spin around the green,” he said. “They have to control the forward energy in the ball.”
* Seven Steps to Heavenly Chipping is available in paperback or e-book formats online from Amazon or by contacting one of his golf centres.
*** Win a lesson with Stuart Smith ***
The Suffolk Free Press has teamed up with Stuart Smith to offer two readers a set of vouchers each entitling two people to have a free one-hour short game lesson at Old Joe’s Golfing Range. All you have to do to be in with a chance is answer the following question and send it with your name, address, answer and a daytime telephone number by either email: firstname.lastname@example.org or post: SFP Golf competition, Russell Claydon, Anglia Newspapers, King’s Road, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 3ET to reach us no later than 9am on Thursday (December 11)* The question is: ‘How many different types of spin can Stuart Smith put on one chip?’
*Usual Anglia Newspapers competition rules apply.