It is an unavoidable fact of golf that you’ll hardly ever find a perfectly flat lie around the green.
This trend will only continue as modern course design continues to put a greater and greater emphasis on building up greens and their surrounds. This means that many chips on to greens are being played off an uphill lie.
The key to playing a successful uphill chip is aligning the spine angle to the uphill lie.
Off a flat lie, the golfer automatically sets up with their spine angle perpendicular to the ground. Achieving a perpendicular spine angle in relation to the slope is essential for a successful uphill chip. In practice, this means the spine at address is angled away from the slope with more weight on the right foot. This is slightly counter intuitive as most senior golfers will lean into a slope.
The reason we want a perpendicular spine angle in relation to the slope is so the club’s arc through impact follows the contours of the land. If a senior can achieve this position the flight on the resulting chip shot will be much higher which needs to be taken into account when playing the shot. Because the slope increases the launch angle of the ball, it may be possible to play a club with lower loft. Off a slight uphill lie, a pitching wedge could fly as high as a sand wedge.
However, there reaches a point when the slope may become too severe to allow the senior golfer to create a perpendicular spine angle to the ground. In this circumstance, the senior golfer can begin to tilt their spine a little more towards the target but too much tilt will create a much steeper angle of approach into the ball, leading to a ‘stabby’ stroke and a dig into the ground. This steeper angle of approach will also cause a much lower ball flight loaded with backspin. This must be taken into account when playing the shot.
How to approach an uphill chip:
1. Try to keep the stance narrow; players don’t want a wide stance whilst chipping.
2. Place the ball towards the back of the stance and keep your hands well ahead of the ball, opposite the left thigh.
3. Tilt your spine angle until it is perpendicular with the slope and put a little bit more weight on the back foot.
4. Take the club away, low to the ground and swing through allowing the club to follow the contour of the slope.
5. Sweep the ball away and remember the ball flight will be higher than normal.
Practice these tips, and you're sure to improve your uphill chip shots.