Chipping may well be the least-practiced skill in golf. Think about it: How often do you work on your short game? And for how long?
That’s one reason so few golfers are adept at this (relatively) simple task. It’s also why they seldom put good chipping rounds back to back. Some days, a golfer happens to have a feel for the club and the greens. When it’s not there, neither is his short game.
There’s absolutely no reason that chipping shouldn’t be one of your strengths, a skill you can count on no matter what state your swing or putting stroke are in. Here are a few ways to bring your chipping up to speed and keep it polished for the long haul.
- Hands ahead of the ball: We’ve said it elsewhere on this website and we’ll reaffirm it here – chip shots are nothing more than miniature iron shots. The same concepts apply to both swings, starting with your hands being ahead of the ball at address and impact. Maintaining this relationship will prevent you from flipping the hands and scooping the ball, while producing a solid strike with ample backspin.
- Narrow stance: Always address basic chip shots with your feet just a few inches apart at the heels. This promotes a steeper angle into the ball for maximum control.
- Maintain the triangle: Imagine a triangle formed with three points – where the hands meet the grip, plus your left and right shoulders. The idea is to keep this triangle intact as you swing back and through, which prevents the hands and wrists from becoming overactive. Too much wrist action leads to inconsistent distance control, an issue you can eliminate by mastering a one-piece motion.
- Practice, practice, practice: Ignore the short game at your own risk. Sure, it’s more fun to blast drives on the range, and arguably more important to keep your putting fine-tuned. But put in just 10-15 minutes of chipping per practice session and you’ll be amazed at how well it translates to your rounds. If your course doesn’t allow chipping on the practice green, stake out a small space in the back yard where you can drill the fundamentals.
It’s incredibly easy to develop and maintain a deadly chipping game. Set aside a sliver of time to practice, and consistency will come.