Chipping can be a very tricky part of the game.
You may find it difficult because your technique is incorrect or you lack in confidence. Either way, things can change and get better. This tip is designed to help use more options around the green and also to help with a new style or grip to help build confidence again.
General chipping technique:
- When setting up for a chip shot, we have to take out the power elements of our golf swing set up. Adjusting the stance is a great way to reduce power so aim to create a stance that is much more narrow than normal. Aim to have about one and a half feet of distance between your feet at set up. This will reduce the power that your swing can produce which is needed for such a short shot.
- Ball position - Aim to place the ball in the middle to slightly forward of middle in the new narrow stance position. The main reason for this is so we return back to the impact area with a similar amount of loft applied at set up. If the ball position is too far back the golfer can become tempted to dig at the golf ball and potentially lean back away from the target.
- Grip down on the golf club slightly to gain more control as this will help to reduce the club head speed.
- The weight distribution at set up needs to slightly favour the front foot by about 55%-60%. It is also important to keep this forward weight distribution throughout the golf shot to guarantee a good contact with a slight downward blow into the golf ball.
- Make sure the backswing stroke and the follow through stroke are roughly the same length on both sides to each other. This will help when judging your distance control with your chipping technique.
- Minimize the amount of wrist action you use when chipping to help reduce the chance of flicking or scooping when you come to hit the golf shot. A small amount of wrist hinge will and should happen during the backswing, but ideally when coming in to strike the golf ball you should reduce how much wrist action takes place, by aiming to have no wrist action after the shot. The leading arm and the club should be in line with each other after the shot.
Key tip - A different grip option may be the way forward also; this will help banish the demands if you are a bad chipper. The best alternative grip option when chipping is to hold the golf club like a putter. As a rule, a putting grip is designed to eliminate wrist hinge and break so it is brilliant for chipping short distances.
Chipping with many different golf clubs in your set will also help to improve your chipping skills. Many more golfers now chip with lower lofted golf clubs such as a seven to eight iron, but it is worth thinking about chipping with a hybrid or fairway wood. The little loft of the golf club manages to lift it just enough to get over some uneven ground but then very much acts like a putter once it has landed.
Remember when chipping with a low lofted club that the golf ball will come out fast so do practice this skill before taking it on to the golf course.
Best Chipping Golf Drills
If you are anything like most amateur golfers, you probably have a bit of fear in the back of your mind anytime you stand over a chip shot. Chipping is an area of the game that tends to give amateur players a tremendous amount of trouble, in large part because it is rarely practiced. Most golfers prefer to hit shots on the driving range rather than working on their short game, and the results of that decision are seen out on the course. If you are serious about actually shooting lower scores in the months and years ahead, you will need to dedicate yourself to the process of learning how to chip the ball properly.
The first thing you need to do in order to take a step forward in the chipping department is to actually work on this part of your game. During each practice session that you complete, make sure you include at least a portion of time that is to be spent chipping. Even if it is only five or ten minutes after you are done on the range, the time you spend chipping is sure to be extremely valuable in your improvement. You are going to miss greens in each round that you play, meaning you are going to have to chip the ball on a regular basis. Any golfer who fails to practice their chipping is missing out on a big opportunity to shoot lower scores – it's just that simple.
Once you have decided to spend time on your chipping, the next thing you need to figure out is exactly how you are going to practice this part of your short game. Just dropping a few balls on the ground and chipping them toward a target is a good start, but you can do better through the use of drills. In this article, we are going to highlight some of the best chipping drills available to you as you practice. By putting some or all of these drills to use, it is likely that you will be able to accelerate the learning process. Drills are a great way to improve any part of your game, and that certainly applies in this specific area.
In order to practice your short game properly, you are going to need to have a good place to work on things like chipping and pitching the ball. Some golf courses offer great short game practice areas, while others are lacking in terms of the practice facilities that they offer. Look around at various courses in your area to find one that offers a quality chipping area as part of their overall practice complex. You may be able to use the short game practice area for free, or you may have to pay a small fee for access.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Spot Drill
We will start out with one of the most-popular, and most-useful drills that you can use to improve your chipping. This drill is extremely simple to use, and yet it has the ability to make you a significantly better chipper in short order. One of the nice things about this drill is the fact that you don't really need any extra equipment – you should be able to complete it with just what you already have in your golf bag.
The concept behind the spot drill is the idea if chipping to a specific spot on the green as your target. Many players chip using this line of thinking, as it as a great way to simplify what can be a complicated shot. Rather than just looking at the hole prior to hitting your chip shots, you are going to pick out a spot on the green that is going to act as your landing spot for the ball. Once you pick this spot – based on the slope of the green, speed of the green, and more – you then forget about the hole and focus only on the job of chipping the ball onto your spot. As you practice this technique, you will get better and better and picking spots that allow the ball to bounce and roll perfectly up to the hole.
To perform the spot drill during your next short game practice session, please feel free to follow the steps below.
- The equipment that you will need for the drill is simple – a wedge, a handful of golf balls, and a small golf towel. Of course, you will also need to have access to a short game practice area which will allow you to chip onto a putting green from a clean lie on some fairway-length grass.
- To start the drill, you will need to pick out a relatively simple and straightforward chip shot somewhere around the practice area. The shot you set up for yourself should be mostly flat, and not particularly long. You can always work your way up to more difficult shots after you get the hang of the drill.
- Once you have picked out both a starting point and a target hole for your chip shots, you will then need to settle on a spot that is going to serve as your landing point for each chip. This is the most important part of the drill, as the whole point of the process is to learn how to identify and hit good spot targets. Read the entire chip from start to finish, think about the speed of the green, and select a spot that you think will allow the ball to wind up right next to the cup.
- After you have picked out your spot, you will need to walk up to that spot on the green so you can lay your towel down over the spot itself. The towel is going to be a visual representation of the target during the drill, making it easier to focus on your landing spot as you chip. Eventually, of course, you will take the towel away after you have a good idea of how to aim at a spot on the green.
- With the towel on the ground, you will be ready to actually hit a few shots. Head back to your golf balls, make practice swings as you would on the course, and hit each ball with the goal of landing the ball directly on top of the towel. This is going to be harder than you expect at first, but you should come long relatively quickly as you get the idea. No golfer is ever going to be perfect in terms of hitting the spot with 100% consistency, but working on this drill regularly will allow you to make progress as time goes by.
Once you have this drill set up, you can work on it for as long as you'd like. If you find that your initial spot selection is a bit off, feel free to walk back up to adjust the positioning of the towel you had placed on the ground. Also, you can change clubs along the way to practice your chipping with a variety of the wedges. Of course, it is likely that you will need to move the towel any time you change clubs, as altering the amount of loft you are using will change the ideal landing spot for your chip.
Three Shots, One Club
Versatility is one of the keys to a solid short game. You are going to face an incredible variety of shots within the short game out on the course – in fact, it could be said that no two short game shots are exactly alike. The best short game players tend to be those who are flexible in the way they send the ball toward the hole. For instance, you will want to play the ball low to the ground on some occasions, where other occasions are going to demand that you toss the ball high up into the air. The ability to hit any kind of short game shot that is necessary for the situation at hand is going to make you a much better player at the end of the day.
To build some versatility into the way you chip the golf ball, this drill is going to ask you to play three different kinds of shots, all with the same club. Most players are only able to chip the ball one way with any given club, and that kind of limitation makes it hard to get up and down from very many spots around the green. A big part of the practice you do in the area of chipping should relate to adding as many different types of shots as possible to your repertoire. Thanks to this drill, you could soon find yourself with plenty of options that can be pulled out of the bag at any time.
For this drill, you again want to pick out a relatively easy chip shot somewhere in the short game practice area. While it is best to start out with a fairway lie, you can also do this drill from the rough after a bit of practice. With your starting point and target hole both selected, place three balls down on the ground at your feet and decide which wedge you are going to use. Starting out with your gap wedge or sand wedge is a good way to go, but this choice is up to you.
The first ball that you chip toward the hole is going to be hit with a 'normal' chipping motion. Whatever kind of swing you would use to hit a basic chip shot is the technique you are going to deploy on this first shot. Once that shot has been hit, the next shot is going to be played lower from the back of your stance. Move up to a point where the ball is lined up with the inside of your right foot, and chip the ball low to the ground. Of course, this kind of shot is going to land sooner and roll out farther than the first shot.
To finish up the drill, you are going to put the ball up in your stance while opening the face of your wedge. This isn't going to be a full-blown flop shot, but it is going to be a lofted chip that comes down softly with only a little roll. Since you are going higher in the air with this shot, you will need to land it closer to the hole to account for the ball only rolling a short distance before coming to rest.
When all three shots have been hit, walk up to the hole to retrieve the balls, walk back to your chipping spot, and start over again. You can repeat the drill as many times as you would like, and you can mix it up by hitting toward different holes or using different clubs. Since this is such a simple drill, you can make it a regular part of your usual short game practice routine without any trouble. Mix this drill in with your other practice methods and you should soon find that you have increased confidence in pulling off a variety of chipping trajectories.
Five Lies Drill
As mentioned above, dealing with the variety of situations that you can face around the green is one of the skills you need if you are going to chip at a high level. In addition to chip shots of various distances, you will also see a number of different kinds of lies as you play more and more golf. So, instead of always practicing your chip shots from perfect fairway lies, you should work on chipping from tough spots in the longer grass as well. In fact, there are five kinds of lies that you should incorporate into your practice routine.
- Fairway lie. While some golfers make the mistake of only practicing from this ideal type of lie, you don't want to completely ignore it, either. A significant portion of the shots you hit during practice should be played from the short grass.
- Short rough. There is often a cut of short rough wrapped around the green, so this is the grass you are likely to find if you miss your target by only a small margin.
- Long rough, ball sitting down. When you miss badly, you might find that your ball is sitting down in some long rough. Practicing this kind of lie isn't much fun – because these shots are difficult – but it is important nonetheless.
- Long rough, ball sitting up. There are two general possibilities when you hit the ball into the rough – the ball can sit down on the ground, or it can sit up on top of the grass. While the ball sitting down looks intimidating, having the ball sit up can actually be worse in some cases.
- Bare lie. It is possible that your ball will come to rest on a spot where there is no grass growing at all. This kind of situation will allow you to make a clean hit at the back of the ball, but it will demand a perfect strike if you are to avoid hitting the shot thin or fat.
So, the list above contains the five types of lies that you should be looking for when going through this chipping drill. To perform the drill, you are going to take five golf balls from your bag along with your most-lofted wedge. Pick out a hole near the center of the practice green for your target, and look for as many of the lies listed above as you can possibly find. A good practice area will allow you to find all five (although the bare lie might be tough), but you will have to make do with what you have available.
Once you have placed a ball in each of these five kinds of situations, go ahead and hit each shot to the best of your ability. As you play each shot, pay attention to how the ball reacts when coming off the face of your wedge. The ball is going to respond differently from each kind of lie, and the whole point of the drill is to teach yourself how to handle these adjustments. You might not make much progress in the first session or two, but this drill will help you progress greatly if you stick with it time after time. You will always want to find yourself in the best possible lie out on the course, but preparing yourself to deal with the tough lies will make you a better player overall.
Play It Out with a Wedge
For this last drill, you are going to use just a single golf ball along with your favorite wedge. This is one of the best all-around chipping drills that you can use, because it is going to teach you to get up and down as frequently as possible. Getting up and down is obviously the goal when you are chipping, so using this drill is a great way to put yourself in the right frame of mind.
The exact setup for this drill is going to depend on the green that you are using for your chipping practice. If there are only a couple of holes to chip to, you will need to go back and forth to those two in order to play a number of 'holes'. However, if the green has plenty of holes, you could choose to play once to each of them as you go through the drill.
As for the drill itself, you are simply going to play the ball from somewhere off the green all the way into the hole – using only your wedge. For your chip shots, you will hit a normal chip using the spot technique to pick out a landing target. Once the ball has been chipped onto the green, you are going to 'putt' using the blade of your wedge and a putting action. At first, this technique might be rather difficult if you have not done it previously. However, with just a small amount of practice, you should find that putting with the blade of your wedge is actually quite easy.
Once you have chipped and 'putted' the ball into the hole, you will pick up the ball, find a new spot off the green, and do it again. Before you start, decide on how many 'holes' you are going to play for the drill. You could play once to each hole, you could play a total of 18 holes with a par of 36, or you could set any other target that you wish. As you go through the drill, make sure to give yourself a variety of different types of shots, including long and short chips, uphill and downhill lies, deep rough and fairway cut, and more.
In addition to being a great chipping drill to do on your own, the scoring aspect of this drill makes it a great partner drill as well. If you are practicing with a friend, turn your chipping routine into a bit of friendly competition by using this drill to keep score as you go. Making your practice into a competition will add some pressure to the situation, which is exactly what you will encounter out on the actual golf course.
You aren't going to shoot good scores without chipping at a high level – there is no other way to say it. Fortunately, chipping is something that you can improve quickly if you are willing to spend some time working on your technique. Utilize the drills included above to add variety to your chipping practice and you should start to make progress in the relatively near future. With improved chipping at your disposal, you can look forward to posting some of the best scores of your life. Good luck!