Chipping a golf ball is one of the easiest shots to play when the confidence is high, yet can be one of the most frustrating shots to play when the technique begins to break down.
Approximately 15 percent of the average golfer’s shots in a round come from chipping or pitching a golf ball. It is a huge part of the game and one we must get right if we are to lower our scores.
One of the biggest problems golfers have when playing a short game chip shot in golf is striking down through the golf ball, making a good contact and being able to get the ball to pop up into the air and on to the green. The tendency for most golfers is to use the hands and arms to help or lift the ball up into the air when playing this shot. This creates a flicking action in the hands where the wrists break down and usually produce one of two shots.
The club either bottoms out too early, either catching the ground first in what we call a fat shot, where the ball will only travel a few feet or yards and finish short of the green. The other shot is what we call a thin shot, where the club misses the ground and arrives upwards into the golf ball, hitting it halfway up and sending it low and fast, often through the back of the green and beyond.
To strike the ball correctly in a chip shot, we must control the hands and the wrists and stop that flicking, upward action of the golf club. The golden rule here is to not let the club head undertake the hands. The hands always stay in front of the golf ball at set up through the ball and at the finish.
For this exercise, use one tour stick to help to understand and play this shot better. Start by placing the tour stick on the golf club grip and then take your normal grip position so that your hands squeeze the tour stick and the grip together. The tour stick should then be pointing upwards, extending past the body. Because the stick extends past the side of the body, this will give good feedback and a great indication as to whether the wrists are being used during the chip shot. The objective in this drill is to hit a chip shot without the stick touching the side of the body throughout the chipping action.
Before playing the shot, make sure that when setting up to the ball the body weight is approximately 70 percent on the front foot and the hands are positioned forwards, opposite the front knee so that the tour stick is not touching the side of the body. If the shot is performed correctly, the hands will stay in front of the club head throughout the shot, forcing the club downwards through the ball and striking the ball sweetly. There should be no feelings of interference from the tour stick. If the wrists break down through the shot to flip up through the ball, the tour stick will bump into the side of the body.
The focus here is to watch the finishing position of the shot, ensuring there is no contact from the stick into the body. This drill encourages the golf club to strike down solidly into the golf ball and play a crisp chip shot on to the green and close to the hole.