Becoming a better golfer and reducing your scores can be made easier when you have the correct technique for chipping.
If you can chip better, you will put less pressure on your putting game so that will most likely become much better too, plus you will not be as focused on needing to hit the green in regulation as you can rely on your chipping to rescue any missed greens. This will more than likely improve your iron play as it will free your golf swing up so you can hit much better golf shots into the greens. Your chipping technique can be made simple by following the instructions in this tip.
The best technique for chipping - The best way to chip better is to make sure the set up is consistent and correct. Once you have the set up position, you can then focus on the quality of the strike and the length of swing.
Here are the main factors for a good set up when chipping:
- 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 a 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.
- Grip down on the golf club slightly to gain more control as this will help to reduce the club head speed.
- 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.
- 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 to 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, and aim to have no wrist action after the shot. The leading arm and the club should be in line with each other after the shot.
Best Five Techniques for Chipping
Chipping is an incredibly important skill in the game of golf. If you don't know how to consistently chip the ball within a few feet of the hole, you are going to have trouble shooting good scores – even if the rest of your game is in good condition. All golfers miss greens, so you are certain to need your chipping game to bail you out on at least a few occasions during a round. The difference between a score you love and a score you hate can be as simple as getting the ball up and down a few extra times over the course of 18 holes.
Unfortunately, most amateur golfers don't give chipping the respect that it deserves. You should think about chipping as one of the most important things in your game, rather than treating it as an afterthought that you will practice if you have time. Professional golfers prioritize chipping as one of the keys to their success, and you should do the same. If you are serious about shooting lower scores and continuing to improve your game over the long run, chipping is going to have to be a big part of that progress.
So, now that you understand the importance of chipping, it would be a good idea to develop some different techniques that you can use to get the ball up and down from various lies around the green. No two chip shots are exactly alike – which is why you need to have a number of options available to you in your 'arsenal'. When you can turn to a variety of chip shot styles depending on the shot at hand, you will be well-prepared to deal with just about anything the course can throw your way.
In the content below, we will cover five different chipping techniques. None of these would be classified as 'better' than the others – they are all different, and they are used to accomplish different goals. The key to your short game success is going to come down to picking the right one at the right time, and then executing it correctly. You can be sure that professional golfers have plenty of different chipping options available to them when they head out onto the course, and you should prepare in a similar fashion. While you aren't necessarily going to have as many shots in your bag as a top pro, there is no reason you can have several choices to pick from when you walk up to any chip shot.
All of the instruction 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 Classic Bump and Run
If you are just getting started in the game of golf, the bump and run is the first chip shot you should learn. Even if you have been playing for a long time, it is worth your time and effort to review the basics of the bump and run in order to breathe some life into your short game. This is probably the shot you will turn to most often from around the green, although that will depend somewhat on the style of courses that you play. A bump and run is a shot that flies in the air for only a short distance before getting back on the ground and rolling the rest of the way to the hole. In terms of predictability and ease of execution, chip shots don't get much better than the bump and run.
To play a bump and run shot, the first thing you will need to do is assess the situation in front of you to decide if this is the right option. After all, if you choose to play a bump and run when it really isn't called for, you are sure to wind up with a disappointing result. To use this shot, you are going to need plenty of room to work with between your ball and the hole. If you are short sided - meaning you have missed the green on the same side as the hole location - you will probably need a spinning chip shot to stop the ball, rather than a bump and run. So, look for a comfortable amount of green between your ball and the hole, and make sure that green isn't sloping away from you too severely.
Another important element to this shot is the lie of the ball. A proper bump and run will be played from a clean lie with no grass behind the ball. Often, you will see the bump and run used from the collar (or fringe) of the green, or even from the fairway short of the putting surface. This is the best time to use this shot, because you should have a good lie and there shouldn't be any long grass between your ball and the hole. Anytime you are presented with a clean lie and nothing in your way when chipping, your mind should immediately think about using the bump and run.
So, when the situation is right and you decide to play the bump and run, how do you make it happen? Follow the simple steps below.
- Select a relatively low lofted club to use for the shot. While the exact club that you want to use will vary based on the distance of the shot and the shape of the green, something between a six iron and pitching wedge should be good. During your practice sessions, work on shots with a variety of clubs so you are prepared on the course.
- Before taking your stance, you should read this shot in much the same way you would read a putt. Get a good idea of the slope that is going to be in play on the green, and adjust your line accordingly. Since the ball is going to be on the ground the majority of the time it is in motion, you need to make sure that you get a good read.
- As you walk up to the ball, choke down on the grip an inch or two and use a stance that is similar to the one you use while putting. Place the ball directly in the middle of your stance, and spread your feet wide enough to build a good base. The only difference from this stance and your putting stance is that you should be leaning slightly toward the target at address when hitting a bump and run (where you should be perfectly balanced while putting).
- Now that you are all set, you are simply going to use your regular putting stroke motion to hit the shot. Rock your shoulders back and through, and allow the club to catch the ball cleanly just prior to taking a very small divot out of the grass. On longer shots it is okay to use a little bit of wrist hinge to add power, but this is a shot that should mostly be hit with your shoulder action.
Not only is the bump and run one of the most useful shots in golf, it is also one of the easiest to hit. With just a little bit of practice and a good understanding of the basics, you should be able to get comfortable with the bump and run in almost no time at all.
The Lofted Pitch
The bump and run is great, but it isn't going to do you much good when you have to carry some rough (or another hazard) on your way to the green. Many chip shots need to go over long grass, the corner of a bunker, or even just a steep slope - meaning you need to be able to get the ball up off the ground on command. The lofted pitch is a shot that you will call on almost as frequently as the bump and run, or even more so if you play a course with a lot of slope and a lot of rough.
The technique used for a lofted pitch shot is significantly different from the bump and run. First, you are going to play this shot from an open stance rather than having your feet square to the target. Open up with a narrow stance at address, and lean into your left leg to promote a downward angle of attack. From there, you are going to choke down on the club as you did in the previous section, and make sure your hands are placed ahead of the position of the ball at address. While this shot can technically be played with a number of different clubs, a sand wedge or lob wedge will be the most logical choice.
One of the nice things about this shot is the fact that you can use it either from a clear fairway lie or from the rough. While it is useful from both of those lies, the ball is not going to react the same way when played from each. Shots struck cleanly from a fairway lie should have plenty of spin, meaning they will stop relatively quickly after landing. On the other hand, shots from the rough will have minimal spin and they are likely to bounce and roll. Since that is the case, you need to plan on using loft rather than spin to stop the ball from the rough. If you need the ball to stop quickly, make an effort to hit it as high as possible in order to get it to come down softly and minimize run out.
The majority of your time in the practice chipping area should be spent working on the two shots we have highlighted so far. Between the bump and run and the lofted pitch, you will have covered most of the chip shots that you will encounter during the average round. While the remaining three chipping techniques are also important to learn, they aren't going to be put into use as often as these first two.
The Hybrid Bump
This shot is simply a variation on the bump and run shot that we covered earlier. With this shot, you are going to do mostly the same thing that you did in the bump and run, only you are going to use a hybrid club rather than an iron. When you make this club change, the biggest adjustment you will need to make is to your planning for the shot. The ball is barely going to get off the ground when you bump it with a hybrid, and it is going to roll out a significant distance once on the green. Obviously, this shot is only going to be useful when you have a clear path of short grass between yourself and the hole.
So why would you use this shot rather than the regular bump and run? There are a couple potential reasons. The first reason has to do with the lie of the ball in the grass. If you have a little bit of a 'questionable' lie - a lie where the ball isn't quite sitting clean, but it isn't down in the rough either - you might want to opt for the hybrid. This club selection will make it easy to hit the ball solidly so you don't have to worry as much about the lie as you would when hitting a traditional bump and run. When you arrive at the ball and find that you are having second thoughts about the lie, feel free to turn to the hybrid for insurance against a miss hit.
This shot is hitting with the same putting-style stroke that you used for the previous bump and run. You will likely need to use less of a swing to cover a given distance when using your hybrid, as the hybrid club has a larger club head and will transfer more power to the ball. The biggest challenge in using this shot effectively is going to be controlling your speed. You use your irons more frequently for these kinds of shots, so it is easier to develop feel in your hands with those clubs. With a hybrid, however, you are going to be in 'foreign territory', so more practice time is going to be needed in order to execute successfully.
The Flop Shot
For our next shot, we are going to go to the complete opposite of a bump and run - the flop shot. As you are probably aware, the flop shot is a short game shot that is played high in the air from a short distance. You are going to use a highly lofted club - probably a lob wedge - and that club will then be opened up at address to achieve maximum loft. It takes a steady nerve to pull off a good flop shot, as you have to make a big swing in order to hit the ball only a short distance. This is a shot that absolutely has to be practiced before it is used during a round, as there is a high degree of difficulty involved.
If you would like to try the flop shot, you will want to get started by taking the most lofted club from your bag. Find a spot to practice where you can safely make some 'mistakes' without doing any damage to anyone or anything. Hitting a flop shot thin can lead to a line drive that travels as far as 100 yards or more, so be sure you have room to work with. If there is anything that could be damaged in the distance beyond the practice green, look for another place to work on your flop shot. While the flop shot can technically be attempted from a variety of lies, it is usually best to start with a 'fluffy' lie in the rough. When your ball is sitting in the short rough around the green, it will usually be slightly off the ground, making it easier to slip your club under and get the ball into the air.
It is crucial that you have an open stance for this shot, as you want to swing across the ball dramatically from right to left. Cutting across the ball at impact is going to make it easier to get the ball up in the air, and it is also going to help you impart some backspin which will help stop the ball when it lands. In many ways, the swing you make for the flop shot is going to be the same as the one you make in a bunker. It will be a big swing, with a full release, and you need to keep your eyes and head down in order to get under the ball safely. When all of those things are done correctly, the ball should pop up into the air nicely.
You should understand that the flop shot is something that should only be pulled out of the bag when absolutely necessary. If you have a safer option available to you on a given shot, you should take that option. Anytime you make a big swing from short distance, there is the potential for things to go wrong. As a good rule of thumb, you should make your chipping decisions with the goal of keeping the ball as close to the ground as possible. Assess your options on each chip shot, and only choose to go up into the sky when no other good option exists.
The Low Spinner
Speaking of chip shots with a high degree of difficulty, this last option on our list is one that you will see used regularly by the pros - but rarely by the average amateur golfer. The low spinning pitch shot looks exactly like it sounds, as the ball is pitched low to the ground with a high rate of spin. When executed correctly, the ball will bounce once or twice before the spin takes over and stops the ball cold. It can look impressive when you pull this off, but it can also go wrong in a number of ways.
Should you decide that you would like to give this shot a try, the first thing you will need to have is plenty of nerve. Just like with a flop shot, you can make a mess of this one if you don't catch it cleanly. The ball will be played back in your stance to hit the low spinner, and you are going to use a highly-lofted club. Hitting down on the ball aggressively is the key to success here, as you need that downward angle to produce spin. Make sure you are leaning left at address, and keep your stance relatively square. Since you want to keep the ball down, you aren't going to swing across the ball like you have in some of the previous chip shots - you will want to swing directly down the line toward the target.
The best time to use this shot is when you have a great lie and plenty of distance to cover between your ball and the hole. You need the good lie in order to create spin, and you need to have enough space to hit this shot hard enough to achieve the desired effect. Often this is a shot that pro golfers will use when playing uphill, as the slope will help the spin take hold when the ball lands. Using this shot downhill is going to produce inconsistent results, so only go for it when you are sure you can pull it off perfectly.
While there are actually many different chip shots that you can attempt on the golf course, the five listed above should be enough to get you out of nearly every situation. As was mentioned previously, the first two shots on the list - the bump and run and the lofted pitch - are the two that should receive most of your attention at first. Once you are comfortable with those shots, you can move on to some of the specialty shots which will help you get out of some tricky spots. Remember, the chipping portion of your game is never going to be a finished product, as there will always be room for improvement. Good luck!