Golf requires a combination of athletic ability, skill, and practice. Any great golfer will tell you that practice is the most important of the three. The funny thing about the majority of beginners and even more advanced players is that they tend to focus most of their practice on driving. While this is an important part of the game, they would probably see better results and lower scores if they put more effort into practicing their short game. With this in mind, we look at how to improve your chipping.
The top golfers make it looks so easy but many players struggle with their chipping.
- What is chipping?
- Get the basics right
- How to improve your chipping
- Loosen your grip
- Work on your tempo
- Keep your hands in front of the ball
- Approach your aim as you would with a putt
- Rotate your body
- It is all in the left arm (for right-handed players)
- Play the shot with commitment
- Try to perfect your chipping with one club
- Practice practice practice
- Final Thoughts
- Related Articles
What is chipping?
If you have left yourself a few yards short of the green, off to the side, or even over, you probably want to chip the ball towards the hole. The chip is a short-stroke designed to bounce and gently roll toward the hole.
A chip can be played with a range of clubs. Most people use an 8 or 9 iron, some a wedge, and some even chip with a lofted hybrid or wood.
It differs from a pitch which is a higher shot with more carry and is normally used from a greater distance. A pitch will often have spin allowing it to stop close to the pin.
This video explains the difference between chipping and pitching.
Get the basics right
As with all strokes in golf, it is critical that you understand and execute the basics correctly.
Chipping requires a different approach to your normal swing.
Your stance should be narrow, similar to your putting stance. Keep most of the weight on your leading (front) foot. Position the ball in the middle or slightly back of your stance. You want to be relatively close to the ball.
The aim is to create a fairly steep angle of attack and strike the ball directly. You want to hit the ball first, not the turf.
Remember that the intention is for the ball to roll you need to decide on the spot where you want it to land in order to aim your shot.
Depending on the club being used most golfers will choke down on the club griping it near the shaft. Some golfers prefer the standard grip, some use their putting grip, and others use a unique grip for chipping. It is about what works best for you and delivers the best results.
The basic swing is a pendulum motion similar to a putting stroke but it does use more hands. Try not to hinge your wrists and don’t forget a follow-through that is equal to your backswing.
These are general guidelines and each golfer has a unique style. What is important is that you find what works best for you and practice until your distance and direction are consistent.
How to improve your chipping
If you have mastered the basics but still leave yourself with more putt than you would like, you need to fine-tune your chipping technique.
Here are a few ideas to try.
Loosen your grip
Feel is critical for accurate chipping and a tight grip will reduce this. Loosen the grip a bit, soften the hands, so that you can really feel the shot. This is a short and relatively shot and a tight grip is not necessary.
Work on your tempo
Being a softer shot it is hard for many players to find the ideal tempo. Consider the club you are using, the type of shot you are playing, and give it a gentle nudge in the right direction. The best way to perfect this, once again, is through practice.
Keep your hands in front of the ball
One way to ensure the correct strike angle for a chip is to keep your hands in front of the ball.
Approach your aim as you would with a putt
If the ball is going to roll along the green towards the flag the lie of the green is just as important as when you are putting. You need to get down, read the green, and aim your shot accordingly. The perfect chip will be useless if the green works against the direction you send the ball.
Also, give some thought to where would be the ideal place to putt from. While it would be great to chip it in, chances are you will still have to putt. Make it easier on yourself with a bit of planning.
Rotate your body
Many people think that because it is a short soft shot there is no need to rotate. In order to get proper contact and the right launch you still need to rotate as you swing. It will be less movement than a full swing but do not try and keep your body rigid.
It is all in the left arm (for right-handed players)
The direction and control are based mainly on the left arm and wrist.
Experiment with different ball positions. While we suggested in the basics that the ball be centered, this will depend on your style, the club you use, the distance you want to achieve, and the loft you want. The ball should often be placed nearer to the back foot.
One has to try a range of positions to determine what works best for you.
Play the shot with commitment
While very different from a full swing, you still need to accelerate through the ball. The yips are not just when putting and many players hold back when chipping with disastrous results.
Try to perfect your chipping with one club
While many golfers, including pro golfers, use several different clubs for chipping. They have the luxury of years of experience and many hours to practice. This is something most of us do not have. To simplify things, it might be an idea to focus on one club only and work on getting a feel for how to use it effectively over a range of distances.
This might sound a bit limiting but it is better to be confident with one club than average with a range of clubs. You can always expand the selection down the line.
Practice practice practice
As you can see, this has been a common thread in this article. While we all love to gun balls off the tee at the driving range, invest time in your chipping practice. Better chipping is guaranteed to lower your score and improve your game.
A small adjustment in your weight or stance might be all that is holding you back. The only way you are going to be able to work this out is with practice. The great thing is that you can do it anywhere. Even if you only have a small space you can quickly and easily set up a target and practice. All you need is a few balls.
There are numerous drills one can use to improve chipping but it really just comes down to getting the stance, angle, weight, and tempo down. Practice will give you confidence and mean fewer two putts and even the odd impressive chip in.
OK, practice lecture over. You have the basics as well as some ideas on how to improve your chipping. Like so many aspects of golf, there is no perfect answer that works for everyone. You need to find the chipping setup and approach that works best for you.
The benefits of better shipping will be evident in your scorecard and result in a more enjoyable game. Take the time to understand the shot and work at improving your chipping. You will be glad you did.
- How to Drive a Golf Ball Further
- What Is The Best Club For Chipping Around The Green?
- What is The Cost of an HD Golf Simulator? How Affordable Are They?
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.