Phil Gaggero - Lake Padden Golf Course


Bio: Phil is the Director of Instruction at Lake Padden and also the Program Director of the First Tee of Whatcom County. He is a member of the PGA of America and a staff professional for TaylorMade. Phil has also contributed columns for the Bellingham Herald and was a keynote speaker at Golf Fest Northwest in Seattle last year.

Teaching Philosophy:
‘I believe each player has a unique blueprint that is their perfect swing. This blueprint is dictated by their physical strength, flexibility and dexterity. My goal is to combine solid swing principles (fundamentals) with the player’s natural strengths to create that repetitive, perfect swing. I encourage students to remember that golf is a game and meant to be fun. Relax, and enjoy the journey of learning.’

Contact: (360) 738-7400

Basic Rate: $70/hour

Crisp Chips

For what is a very straightforward shot, the results amateur golfers achieve when playing a simple greenside chip are far more inconsistent than they should be. The outcome of the shot really depends on a sound set-up. The actual swing itself couldn’t be more simple.

Unfortunately, amateurs miss an awful lot of greens. And the misses aren’t always in the same place; some are right, some left, some short, some long. Sometimes, you’ll be left with a bunker shot, a lofted pitch over sand, or an explosion-type shot from heavy rough. Sometimes the area around the green will be so flat and the grass sufficiently short for you to use a putter (or Texas Wedge). A lot of the time though, the shot required will be a simple chip. The loft of the club carries the ball a short distance on to the putting surface whereupon the ball runs out, hopefully into the hole.

Once you have the basic technique down, you can concern yourself with the required trajectory of the shot, where to land the ball and how it will react once it pitches. For now though, let’s focus on the correct set up and swing.


Feet together, weight forwardAs you can see from the image, I position my feet much closer together than normal and slightly open to the target line. I am leaning forward slightly; roughly 60% of my weight is on my front foot, and my hands are slightly ahead of the clubhead so that the shaft leans forward. I position the ball opposite the inside of my back foot, and grip down the club a little. Take some time to practice getting into this position. It will almost certainly help you turn three shots into two from around the green; and that will have a profound affect on your score.

PhilGaggero2.jpgI see this all too often, but it is ABSOLUTELY NOT how to hit a crisp chip shot whose flight and roll you can predict. In an attempt to loft the ball into the air, the golfer keeps too much of his weight on his back foot and tries to help the ball up. Yes, you will hit a good shot…maybe once in every 20 tries!

You will never achieve any great consistency using this flawed method. More often than not, you’ll actually skin the ball (leading edge of the clubhead makes contact with the ball’s equator) low across the green into trouble beyond it.

PhilGaggero3.jpgHere is one of my pupils hitting a perfect chip shot. Note how the ‘Y’ formed by his arms and the shaft is very much intact – he hasn’t collapsed his wrists. His head is still and his weight still very much on his front foot. The swing was just a simple rocking motion of the shoulders, with just a hint of wrist break perhaps,  and he made contact with the ball just before the clubhead reached the bottom of its arc. He knows exactly how far the ball will carry and what it will do once it lands.

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