The chili-dip is not nearly as delicious as it sounds. In fact, this rotten little shot can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
“Chili-dip” is golfer slang for a fat chip or pitch shot played from near the green. The club hits the turf behind the ball, which goes a few yards (or less) and comes up well short of the target. It's downright maddening.
Golfers who chili-dip are usually guilty of 1) Trying to lift or scoop the ball into the air by flipping their wrists at it, or 2) Failing to accelerate the clubhead through the shot.
If you tend to overuse the hands and hit a lot of fat chips, this video tip has the cure:
If you think your problem is a decelerating clubhead, read on.
It seems the closer golfers get to the hole, the less aggressive we become. If anything, most of us swing too hard with a driver, hybrid or iron in hand. But once we're on or near the green, we turn into giant chickens, deathly afraid of hitting the ball past the cup.
That's a losing mentality. First of all, going too far is usually no worse than coming up an equal distance short. In fact, it's better – by going long, at least the ball has a chance to go in. The biggest problem lies in what a tentative mindset does to our swing or stroke.
The club must accelerate into the ball on a chip or pitch shot – same as with a driver or iron. If the clubhead slows down approaching the ball, the best you can hope for is to make decent contact and come up short. More likely, you'll hit behind it.
Of course, you can't just flip a switch and change from a timid chipper to an aggressive one, right? Nope. That's why you must build a fundamentally sound method that you trust. The key to chipping is a simple matter of making crisp contact. Do this and you'll control the ball with proper trajectory and backspin.
Then again, even golfers with solid technique sometimes lose their confidence. If you've become apprehensive around the greens, try this easy drill to get your mojo back:
- On the practice green, set up for a straightforward chip of 20-30 feet. Choose the club and setup you'd normally use for this shot.
- Hit three of shots exactly as you would on the course, noting the length of your backswing and follow-through.
- Now hit three shots with a backswing half as long as normal, but with a longer follow-through. Don't worry about where the ball goes.
- To make a longer follow-through with a shortened backswing, you'll have to accelerate through the shot. Continue practicing this way, varying your distance after every few tries.
Which would you rather do: Chip the ball six feet past the hole, or chili-dip it short of the green? Chip fearlessly and you'll find the results much more appetizing.
Avoid Chili Dip by Accelerating on Chip Shots
For most amateur golfers, it is the 'small things' that add up to big problems on the scorecard. You might think that you need to totally rebuild your swing in order to lower your scores, but that usually isn't the case. More often, it is the small fundamentals of the game that wind up costing you a number of shots over the course of 18 holes. Chipping is a great example of this concept. While chipping seems relatively simple, any experienced player knows just how difficult it can be. If you are unable to chip the ball consistently out on the course, you are sure to waste at least a few shots in this department alone.
One of the biggest problems that is seen when amateur golfers chip the ball is the dreaded 'chili dip. A chili dip chip shot is one where the club contacts the ground before the ball, causing the shot to come up significantly short of the intended target. In fact, if you badly chili dip a chip, the ball might only move a few inches in front of you – if it even moves at all. A chip shot that is chili dipped will frequently fail to reach the green, meaning you will have to hit another chip shot before you can even pull your putter from the bag. Obviously, struggling with your chipping in this manner can cause your score to add up quite quickly, even if the rest of your game is in pretty good shape.
In this article, we are going to discuss the chili dip, what causes it to occur, and how you can fix it once and for all. You might be surprised to find that chipping can be one of the easier parts of the game once you have a solid technique in place. Professional golfers don't mind chipping at all – and often they will chip the ball in because of the confidence they have their technique and their preparation. While it would be great to get to that level, you don't even have to chip like a pro in order to improve your game. As long as you can steer clear of the chili dip, and any other serious mistakes, you should be able to shave strokes from your scores in short order.
To improve your chipping, you need to dedicate yourself to practicing this part of the game. That might seem like an obvious point, but many amateur players fail to practice the short game at all – instead choosing to spend their practice time working only on the full swing. You need to invest some time in your full swing, of course, but your short game demands just as much attention. Commit yourself to meaningful short game practice each time you visit the range and your game will be better off for the effort.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Cause of the Chili Dip
You should never attempt to fix a problem in your golf game without first understanding the root cause of that problem. In a rush to improve, many golfers skip this step and instead just start changing things about their technique with the hopes of stumbling onto a solution. You can do better than that. Instead of just hoping to get lucky with a quick fix, you will be far better off to take a few moments to understand why you are making this mistake in the first place. Once you grasp the problem being the scenes, the fix will likely turn out to be relatively simple.
So, before we move on to figure out how you can get rid of the chili dip chip shot, we first need to take a moment to highlight the potential causes of this problem. Even if you already think you know what is leading to your chili dip mistakes, review the points below to confirm your suspicions.
- Deceleration. As you can probably tell from the title of this article, accelerating the club is going to be one of the keys to avoiding the chili dip (more on that later). So, it only stands to reason that decelerating through the hitting area is one of the issues that can cause you to chili dip the shot. If you allow the club to slow down prior to impact, a couple of things can happen. First, you may simply come up short of the ball, hitting the turf prior to making contact. When that happens, the club will slow down dramatically, and whatever momentum you have left will not be enough to send the ball to the target. Or, even if you do make decent contact, the grass behind the ball might grab onto the club head and twist it in your hands as you swing. Without enough speed to carry the club through the rough, your shot will be destined to fail. Either way, the lesson is clear – decelerating on your chip shots is a major problem.
- Poor address position. Something as simple as your stance can cause you to chili dip the ball when your fundamentals are off. Specifically, you need to make sure you aren't leaning your weight onto your back foot as you address the ball. You should actually have a majority of your weight onto your left foot as you stand over the shot, as that kind of stance will promote a clean downward hit on the ball. If you lean the opposite direction, your center of gravity will be behind the position of the ball and you will almost certainly hit the shot fat.
- Lack of confidence. This point gets away from physical fundamentals and moves into the area of the mental game. When you lack confidence as you stand over the ball, any number of negative outcomes are possible – including the chili dip. Usually, for the amateur player, a lack of confidence in the chipping game stems from a lack of practice time. If you don't work on this part of the game during practice, there is almost no way you are going to be confident about it on the course. Think of practice time spent on the short game as an investment in your confidence. When you find yourself facing a chip shot during your next round, you will be glad that you have invested that practice time in working on your technique. Your confidence will naturally grow from practicing chipping, and your performance will speak for itself.
- Club selection. You can even cause a chili dip shot by picking the wrong club for a chip shot. This usually works in connection with deceleration, as having the wrong club in your hands can lead to a decelerating action through the ball. For example, if you decide to chip with a pitching wedge when you only have a short distance to the hole, you might feel like you have to avoid hitting the ball too hard. While trying to not hit the shot too hard, you may decelerate and chili dip the shot. If you had taken a sand wedge instead, you could have made a more aggressive motion and the chili dip likely would have been avoided.
If you regularly chili dip your chip shots, there is a good chance that it is one of the four problems above that is to blame. Or, it may even be a combination of two or more of these problems. Either way, it is important to identify which of these issues you think is guilty of causing your struggles. Think about your chipping technique, and your mindset while chipping, and pick out the points that relate most-directly to your game.
Building a Foundation of Success
Yes, you need to accelerate the club through the ball in order to hit good chip shots. And yes, we are still going to address that point specifically later in this article. However, without the right chipping fundamentals in place, it won't really matter if you are accelerating or not – you won't hit quality shots. In this section, we are going to walk through a few of the keys that you should keep in mind while working on your chipping technique. If you manage to follow all of the tips below while chipping, you just might find that the acceleration part of the equation takes care of itself.
- Casual stance with a lean. This point was mentioned briefly above, but it needs to be expanded on here for greater clarity. Your stance while chipping is very important, but it doesn't need to be as 'formal' as the stance you use while making a full swing. When chipping, you are free to position your feet casually, as you might stand while talking to a friend. However, it is important that you are leaning to the left as you stand, because that lean is going to promote a downward hit through the ball. You always want to hit down through the ball when you chip, as hitting down is what makes the ball go up. So, stand in a relaxed manner with your weight leaning into your left side, and make sure you are as comfortable as possible before the club goes in motion.
- Use the whole club. Most amateur golfers choke well down on the grip of the club when hitting a chip shot, but this adjustment usually does more harm than good. By choking down on the grip, you are going to make the club feel lighter in your hands – and you want the club to feel as heavy as possible while chipping (so you can maintain an even rhythm). Try chipping while keeping your hands up at the top of the grip and check on the results. For most people, chipping while using the whole club is going to be easier than chipping while choked down. Also, since you will have a better feel for the head throughout the stroke, you should have an easier time accelerating all the way through impact.
- Quiet lower body. As you swing the club back and through, there should be almost no movement whatsoever in your lower body. You may need to move your lower body slightly toward the target on longer pitch shots, but the standard chip should be hit like a putt – with a rock of the shoulders and no lower body movement to speak of. Practice hitting very short chip shots with no lower body movement at all and gradually work your way up to longer and longer chips while still keeping your lower body out of the shot. Stability in the lower body is one of the best ways to make clean contact, and clean contact means you aren't going to be chili dipping the ball.
Good chipping isn't complicated, but it does take plenty of practice. Work on your technique using the points above and be sure to spend enough time practicing your chipping to build confidence in your skills. Once you have refined your technique using these tips, there is a good chance that the chili dip will no longer be a problem in your game.
How to Accelerate the Club
Now that you have a good idea of what it is that can cause a chili dip, and what you should be doing in your chipping game to lead to positive results, we can finally take a look at the specific topic of accelerating the club. What do you need to do in order to accelerate the club while chipping? Fortunately, the answers to this question are quite simple.
First, acceleration is about commitment to the shot at hand. You are never going to accelerate the club properly if you aren't committed to the shot that you are trying to hit. This is a major problem among amateur players – specifically those who struggle with their chipping. If you have trouble chipping, you probably don't fully commit yourself to each shot that you hit, as you are afraid of negative outcomes. You might be worried about a chili dip in the back of your mind, or you might be worried about blading the shot over the green. Whatever it is, allowing doubt to creep into your mind is a sure way to kill your acceleration.
Getting over this doubt is going to be accomplished through a combination of target selection and practice. You probably don't think much about picking a target when chipping – you probably just aim at the hole and swing away – but picking a specific intermediate target can give purpose to your shots. An intermediate target is the spot where you want the ball to land before it rolls out toward the hole. When you have a clear intermediate target in your mind, your swings will have added purpose and direction. Going forward, you should not hit any chip shots without first picking a very specific intermediate target.
Of course, that still leaves the practice element of the equation. You shouldn't expect to get better at chipping, or any other part of the game of golf, without first investing plenty of time in practice. The short game is difficult, and it requires focused practice in order to make progress. Not only should you be practicing your technique, but you should also be practicing the mental side of the short game – picking targets, having a positive attitude, etc.
Another point that needs to be made related to acceleration has to do with the length of your swing. If you swing back too far when chipping, you simply won't be able to accelerate on the way through – if you do, you will hit the ball too hard for the shot at hand. This is the trap that many golfers fall into with regard to the chili dip. They swing back too far, so they slow the club down on the way into impact, and they hit the ball fat (resulting in a chili dip). Naturally, the correction that needs to be made here is the shortening of the backswing. By tightening up your backswing, you can afford to swing harder on the way through without sending the ball beyond the target.
If you feel like you are always having to swing softly in order to avoid hitting your chips too far, another step you can take is to add loft to your club selection (unless you are already using your highest-lofted club). Many amateurs think that it is easiest to chip with an 8 or 9-iron, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes, you will find that it is easier to chip the ball with a sand wedge or even a lob wedge. With extra loft to work with, you can swing harder and accelerate more freely through impact. The result is a short game that is capable of handling a wide variety of situations throughout the course of a round.
Accelerating the club through impact is an important part of avoiding the chili dip, but it isn't as simple as just telling yourself to accelerate aggressively. You have to put yourself in a position to succeed by doing things like picking the right club, making a compact backswing, and having your stance fundamentals in place. When you can do all of those things, you will make it as easy as possible to commit to the acceleration you need to hit a clean shot.
Watch for Trouble
Even when you have solid technique within your chipping game, you can still run into the occasional chili dip if you aren't careful. Most of the time, a player with good technique will chili dip a chip shot due to the lie of the ball. If you happen to draw a bad lie, you will need to be careful to execute your shot perfectly, or you may chili dip the shot just a few feet in front of you.
Often, it is the soft lies that will lead to trouble with the chili dip. When the ball is sitting on a soft patch of ground, it will only take a minor mistake to lead to a big problem. You can get away with hitting the ground slightly behind the ball when the turf is firm, but there is no margin for error on soft ground. A soft turf conditions will 'eat up' your club, and the ball will be left way short of the target. When you do face a soft lie, consider using less loft in order to hit a 'bump and run' style shot toward the hole. This might not be the ideal approach for the shot you are facing, but it will give you the best chance to avoid a chili dip.
Another 'dangerous' lie is one that sees the ball sitting well up off of the ground on top of some rough. This is a tricky lie, because many golfers look at it as a blessing, even though it is really a curse. While the ball looks like it is sitting up nicely for you to chip toward the hole, the fact that the ball is well off the ground means you can easily swing the sweet spot below the level of the ball – leading to a shot that comes up short. If you happen to chili dip this kind of shot, you will be lucky if the ball moves even a few inches in the right direction. Learn how to spot trouble with regard to the lies that you draw and you will be able to steer clear of those nasty chili dip chips.
Chipping might not be the most exciting part of the game, but it is certainly one of the most important parts. A player who can chip at a high level can make up for plenty of other mistakes, while a poor chipper will struggle to score even if the rest of their game is rock solid. Work on getting rid of the chili dip mistake and you will be a big step closer to playing at a higher level.