The greenside chip can be one of the most important shots to have in your armoury. Played well it can save you many strokes per round as it has the potential to turn a bogey into a par.
Let's say you've just missed the green and are on the first cut of rough next to the fringe. You can't really putt it from here because the ball could get caught up in the rough and a lob shot would require a deft touch, hours of practice and oodles of confidence. The simplest option for most golfers in this situation is the greenside chip and run. Here all we're trying to do is loft the ball onto the nearest part of the green and let the ball roll the rest of the way. To execute this shot properly, follow these six chipping tips steps:
1. Set up with a narrow stance for control with the ball back and your hands forward. This set up ensures good clean contact when playing the shot.
2. Stand with your weight favouring your left side. This will give you a downward strike onto the ball and that all important clean, crisp contact.
3. Hold the club lightly. Too firm a hold on the club will rid you of your feel.
4. Swing the club back and through in a tick-tock fashion letting the weight of the club and momentum provide the clubhead speed. Do not force a hit with your hands; instead try to let the clubhead swing.
5. As the club swings back and through the ball, try to keep the same hands forward relationship that you established at address.
6. Try to have the same pace of swing on the way through the ball as you had on the way back. We want to keep the pace even.
Tips and Warnings!
1. A good trick to help gauge the correct distance required is to pretend you're hitting a putt from the same distance. Since we're not applying very much power to this shot and therefore we are not creating any spin, the ball reacts in a very similar manner to a putt. Whereas a putt will roll all of its length on the ground, the greenside chip and run will fly around 20 percent of its length and run the next 80 percent. However, amazingly enough both require roughly the same amount of force. So whenever you are putting you are practising your chipping too and vice versa!
2. Avoid hitting at the ball or trying to find the ball with your hands. This will destroy your hands forward impact condition and clean contact. Instead really focus on letting the clubhead swing through the ball in a smooth and unhurried manner.
Chipping from Just Off the Green
Chipping is a critical skill in the game of golf. Despite the fact that it is largely ignored by most amateur golfers, chipping has a lot to do with the score you post at the end of the day. Players who chip the ball consistently close to the hole will always have a great chance to get up and down. Those who struggle with chipping, however, will find that most of their missed greens turn into bogeys – or worse. If you would like to take strokes off of your average score, working on your chipping is one of the fastest ways to see results.
While it might seem counterintuitive, some of the most difficult chip shots you will face on the course are those that come from just off the edge of the green. When you barely miss the putting surface with your approach shot, you will face a short chip that could be quite a challenge depending on the location of the hole and the slope of the green. Handling these short chip shots is difficult to be sure, but it is not impossible. In this article, we are going to highlight some tips which should help you get up and down more frequently from this type of awkward position.
Of course, the technique you are going to use when chipping from just off the green is not any different from the technique you use from farther away. Rather than making major mechanical adjustments, you will need to make strategic adjustments if you are to success from close range. There are a few technical tweaks you can use to help your changes on short chip shots, and those will be covered below, but success or failure is going to mostly be determined by your mental approach. Make smart decisions and you will be likely to chip the ball close – make poor decisions, on the other hand, and failure will be sure to follow.
It is important to learn how to chip from just off the green, as this shot can save you a shot or two in your very next round. However, it should also be mentioned that your best strategy for avoiding bogeys is simply to hit the green in the first place. You are never going to hit every single green in regulation, but adjusting your strategy to put an emphasis on hitting more greens is likely to be beneficial. Some of the steps you can take include aiming to the wide side of the green, using one extra club on approach shots, hitting less club from the tee to keep the ball in the short grass, and more. Think through your usual plan for approach shots and make adjustments as necessary to do a better job of setting up birdie putts.
All of the content 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.
Three Strategy Keys
To get started, we are going to outline three strategy keys which you should have in mind when you prepare to play a short chip shot. As is the case with any other shot you find around the course, it is important to develop a game plan for short chip shots before you make a swing. Rushing through your preparation is a sure way to wind up with disappointing results. Take your time to carefully plan out the shot and only proceed when you are sure you have the right strategy in mind.
The following three points are a great place to start as you come up with a plan for any given short chip shot.
- Forget about spin. If you are playing a chip shot from just off the edge of the green, you probably won't have enough room to put a high rate of backspin on the ball. To create enough backspin to actually stop your shot, you have to swing hard – and chipping from just off the edge of the green will rarely provide you with enough space to do so. Unless the hole is cut all the way across on the other side of the green, you should forget about spin and simply use speed control to stop the ball by the cup. Professional golfers are occasionally able to stop the ball with spin on short shots, but doing so requires an incredible amount of skill and practice. For the average amateur, using speed to stop the ball is going to be the better bet.
- Land the ball on the green. When the hole is cut close to the edge of the green where you are chipping from, you might be tempted to land the ball in the rough in order to take speed off the shot. That is usually a bad idea. While you obviously want to chip the ball as close to the hole as possible, you also need to make sure that your chip shot winds up on the green if nothing else. The worst possible result for this chip shot is to have to follow it up with another chip shot. Even if you can't set yourself up with a short putt, you need to at least set yourself up with some kind of putt to complete the up and down. The goal is obviously to get down in two shots from off the edge of the green, but it is just as important to take no more than three to get down. By trying to bounce the ball through the rough and onto the green, you will bring the possibility of taking four total shots into the equation – and that is a mistake you simply can't afford to make. Land the ball on the green with all of your chip shots and give yourself a putt rather than another chip.
- Leave the pin in the hole. Assuming you are facing a delicate, speedy chip shot when just off the edge, your best bet is to leave the pin in the hole. While you can take the pin out when you have plenty of room to work with, keep it in when chipping from close so it can act as a backstop if necessary. If your chip shot happens to be on the perfect line, the pin may be able to stop it for you even if there is too much speed on the ball. The ball might not actually fall in if it strikes the stick, but it should at least stop quickly enough to provide you with a reasonable putt for your next shot.
There is nothing particularly complicated about the strategies you should use when chipping from close range, but you do need to think through them carefully before playing your shot. Do your best to use speed rather than spin to the stop the ball, and always attempt to land the ball directly on the putting surface. When your chip from the edge of the green is going to be a quick one, leave the flag in the hole as an insurance policy. These tips aren't going to automatically enable you to get up and down at a high rate, but they are a good starting point toward that goal.
The Mechanics of the Shot
As was mentioned in the introduction, there are no major technical changes that you need to make when chipping from the edge of the green. However, there are a few small details which you should be aware of as you practice. If you can incorporate the tips listed below into your technique when chipping from short range, your results should quickly improve.
- A compact backswing. This piece is essential to your success on short chip shots. If you allow your backswing to drift too far back from the ball, you will have too much potential energy built up in your swing. If you were to accelerate the club all the way through the shot – as you should – the ball would almost certainly travel too far. To combat this problem, many golfers wind up decelerating the club rather than shortening the backswing. Obviously, this is a mistake. Deceleration often leads to poor contact, so don't attempt to take speed off of your shots in this manner. Instead, shorten the backswing and accelerate through the shot to a controlled finish. As long as you keep the club head moving through impact, you should be able to strike the ball cleanly time after time.
- A steady head. Okay – so this one is a bit of a cop-out, as this is a tip that you should be using for all of your chip shots. However, it needs to be mentioned here because most amateur golfers lose track of this point as they get closer and closer to the green. When you are chipping from at least a few yards away from the green, you probably can't see the hole in your peripheral vision – so you just keep your head down and hit the shot. However, when you chip from just off the edge, you may be able to see the flag out of the corner of your eye. When that is the case, it is extremely tempting to look up early to see where the ball is going. That is a temptation that you need to resist. Keep your head as steady as possible, focus your eyes on the top of the ball, and make solid contact. Looking up at the hole early isn't going to provide any positive impact on the shot, so don't bother. Work on keeping your head still on these shots in practice and take that discipline with you onto the course.
- Contact near the toe. This is the biggest adjustment you will make – and you are only going to make it in certain circumstances. If you find your ball near the edge of the green and short sided to the hole, you may wish to intentionally hit your chip shot off the toe of the club in order to take speed off the ball. At address, you are going to line up with the ball set about an inch or so away from the sweet spot, out toward the toe. From there, you proceed to hit the shot as usual. By intentionally missing the sweet spot, the ball will come out softly and the shot will cover less total distance. It takes some practice to master this unique shot, so be sure to work on it before trying it during a round. You don't want to have to reach for this shot very often, but it is nice to have in the bag when the situation arises.
If you already have a solid chipping motion in place in your game, there is no need to make any drastic changes when chipping from just off the edge of the green. You should make a couple of subtle changes, however, such as those listed above. Executing your technique nicely will help you turn your chip shot strategies into actual results.
Get On the Ground
There is a tendency among amateur golfers to want to send the ball up into the air when chipping. For some reason, many amateurs feel that they will be more successfully if they are able to carry the ball the majority of the way to the hole. Usually, just the opposite is true. By getting the ball down on the ground as quickly as possible, you should be able to control both the speed and the line of your shot beautifully. While getting the ball down on the ground as quickly as possible is a good strategy with any kind of chip shot, it is particularly effective when playing a chip from just off the edge of the green.
When chipping from close to the green, you will only have to carry a short distance of longer grass before you reach the putting surface. That means there is little need to toss the ball up high into the sky – you can simply bump it out of the rough, land it on the edge of the green, and let it run the rest of the way from there. With a little bit of practice, this type of chipping can be highly successful. While it might not look quite as 'pretty' as a chip shot that flies high in the air, a low bump and run shot is usually your best bet for getting up and down.
To play quality bump and run shots from off the edge of the green, review the following tips.
- Use less club. This should go without saying, but you shouldn't be using a highly lofted wedge when trying to play a bump and run. Instead, you should be using a club with a relatively straight face, based on the amount of carry that you need to land the ball on the green. If you only need to carry the ball a foot or so, something like a six or seven iron should work nicely. When a slightly longer carry is required, a nine iron or pitching wedge may be the right tool for the job. Spend time practicing your chip shots with a variety of irons to get a feel for how they carry and roll out. Expanding the options you have at your disposal from around the greens will better prepare you to handle all of the situations you encounter on the course.
- Pick a landing spot. As is the case with all chip shots, you should be picking a specific landing spot for the shot before making your swing. Most likely, this spot is going to be just on to the green, maybe a foot or less beyond the fringe. While you want to make sure to carry the ball onto the green in order to get a good bounce, you probably can't afford to carry it very far onto the surface if you are going to stop the ball around the hole. Take a moment to pick a landing spot and then focus all of your attention on hitting that spot as accurately as possible.
- Read the chip. Just like a putt, you need to read your chip shot from start to finish. Before you hit the shot, walk up onto the green and evaluate the slope of the ground between your ball and the cup. As you think about choosing a landing spot for the chip shot, keep this read in mind. You will only be able to consistently leave the ball close to the hole while chipping if you read the break of the green accurately. When in doubt, play a little extra break to give the ball plenty of room to turn down the hill and toward the hole. If you miss the low side, the end of the chip shot will see the ball move farther and farther away from the target. Play plenty of break, get the speed just right, and set yourself up with an easy putt to finish the up and down.
Playing the ball along the ground is a great strategy for a number of reasons. For one thing, it is going to be more consistent and reliable than going up in the air. Sure, you can hit some successful high chip shots, but you will also fail with that method quite frequently as well. Also, playing the ball along the ground works in any weather conditions, and you should be able to play this kind of shot from almost any lie. Break the habit of chipping the ball high, especially when you are close to the green, and your results should improve.
Think About Knocking It In
Many of the chip shots you face from just off the edge of the green will be quick, and you will be happy just to place the ball somewhere near the cup. However, from time to time you will run into an easy chip from the side of the green. When you do face one that is uphill, and you find that you have a good lie, you should shift your thinking – rather than trying to get up and down, you should try to make the shot.
To make a chip shot, the ball needs to be running along the ground like a putt. So, the pointers from the previous section certainly come in handy on this point as well. Also, you should take the flag out of the hole, as speed control is unlikely to be a problem. Rather than trying to ram the ball into the back of the cup, control your speed carefully and do your best to drop the ball in just over the front edge. You will only make a small percentage of these shots, and you want to make sure you are leaving a short putt for an easy up and down on the ones you do miss.
A big part of successfully chipping the ball in the hole is simply believing in your ability to do so. Most golfers are so worried about the need to get up and down that they fail to consider the possibility of knocking the chip in without the need for a putt. Open up your mind to this kind of success by working toward a few chip-ins during your next practice session. Set up with an easy chip and do your best to make at least a few before you call it quits. With the positive reinforcement of seeing some practice chip shots fall in, you should be prepared to do the same on the course.
Chipping from just off the edge of the green can be quite a challenge – or it can be relatively easy, depending on the situation. To prepare yourself to handle these kinds of shots successfully, use the advice provided in the article above. The short game is where you are going to find the biggest stroke savings in your game, so work on your chipping consistently if you wish to improve. Good luck!