When you think about the current state of your golf game, what do you think is holding you back from shooting lower scores?

Are You Wasting Strokes Around the Greens Practice Your Chipping

That might sound like a simple question at first, but it is actually quite complicated to come up with a specific answer. Golfers usually don’t have just one weakness while performing nicely around the rest of the course. Instead, most players will hit both good and bad shots within every category of the game, making it hard to determine where most of the strokes are being lost.

Obviously, we have never seen you play golf, so we can’t say for certain which part of the game should be the main focus of your practice efforts. However, we do have a pretty good guess – chipping. Why do we think that you would stand to benefit in a big way by practicing your chipping? Simple – most amateur golfers are lousy chippers. This is not an area of the game that is handled successfully by most players, and countless strokes are wasted as a result. If you could learn how to consistently chip the ball closer to the hole, you would save more pars and your scores would be sure to come down.

In this article, we are going to talk extensively about the task of chipping the ball closer to the hole. You are going to need to improve in a number of areas if you want to see actual results in upcoming rounds. For one thing, you’ll need to fine tune your technique, so we will talk about the basics of solid chipping mechanics. Also, you will need to think clearly before hitting your chip shots, and you will need to have some reliable practice routines to help get you ready for the challenges you’ll run into on the course. Finally, you will need the ability to knock in the short putts that you setup with your solid chip shots. All of these topics are going to be covered in the content below, so let’s get started!

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.

Proper Chipping Mechanics are Simple – But Not Easy

Proper Chipping Mechanics are Simple But Not Easy

There is nothing particularly complicated about the technique you should use to chip the ball up toward the hole in most situations. Of course, just because it is simple, does not mean it is easy. It will take time and effort to learn how to execute a basic chip shot, so don’t take this part of the game for granted. If you are willing to invest time working on the points provided below, you should be able to take a big step forward with your short game play.

This list highlights the main elements that you will want to have present for a standard chip shot. Of course, not all chip shots fall into the category of ‘standard’, so you’ll need to deviate from this list in some ways from time to time. Build your standard technique first and learn to modify that technique later in order to deal with awkward or unusual situations.

  • Build a comfortable stance. When getting ready to hit a full shot, you need to take care to put your body in the right position in order to produce a powerful, consistent swing. The needs of your chipping stance are a bit different. Since you aren’t going to be making a big swing, you don’t really need to concern yourself as much with the small details of the stance. After all, your lower body will barely be involved in the shot at all, aside from the foundation that you can create by flexing your knees nicely. In the end, the most important part of your chipping stance is your own personal comfort. You want to be able to hold your stance all the way through the chipping motion, and the only way that will happen is if you are in a comfortable position. Some golfers like to stand with their feet rather close together, while others like to keep their feet farther apart. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong here, as long as you are comfortable and can swing the club freely through the ball.
  • Set your hands slightly ahead of the ball. You want to hit down slightly on your chip shots, just like your full swing iron shots. To make this easier, it is a good idea to place your hands just a bit in front of the ball at address. This is the position you want to find at impact, so it only makes sense to start at this point. Just make a small swing and return your hands to the same position they held at address. If you can do so successfully, you’ll be in great shape to hit down and add backspin to your chip shot. Not only will hitting down let you produce some spin, but it will also help you play from a variety of types of lies. You aren’t always going to draw a clean lie when chipping and hitting down on the ball will make it easier when you face a lie that is less-than-desirable.
  • Flat left wrist at impact. This is one of the biggest keys to keep in mind when chipping. If you can wind up with a flat left wrist when you make contact with the ball, the face of the club should be in a good position to send the ball in the correct direction. Many golfers get into the bad habit of cupping their left wrist just before impact, in an effort to help the ball get up in the air. Remember, the ball doesn’t need any help getting off the ground – you just need to let the loft of your club do the work. Make solid contact and the loft of the club will do the job of getting the ball airborne. Learning how to trust the ball to get off the ground without scooping it at impact is one of the biggest steps you will take on your journey toward a better short game.
  • Use an even tempo. You don’t want to have any dramatic changes in speed taking place in your chipping action. Rather, you would like to see a smooth, steady swing back and through the ball. It will be tempting to rush these shots just to get them over with, but that kind of attitude is going to ruin your tempo and you’ll struggle to strike the ball cleanly. Specifically, you want to watch out for trouble as you transition from the backswing to the forward swing. Many players rush through the transition as they get nervous about the outcome of the shot. During practice, pay particular attention to this point and make sure you are giving yourself enough time to transition smoothly without ruining your tempo for the rest of the swing.

You really do need to keep things simple when you are working on your chipping technique. There isn’t enough time for any complicated moves in your chipping motion, since the whole thing is over in just a second or two. As you work on your mechanics, keep the goal of simplicity in mind and avoid making any moves that are not necessary to send the ball on its way.

The Strategy of Chipping it Close

The Strategy of Chipping it Close

It probably isn’t surprising to hear that you need reliable technique in order to chip the ball close. Good technique is required all around the golf course, and that doesn’t change when you get near the greens. With that said, you might be a little surprised to learn just how much strategy is involved in chipping. On the surface, chip shots seem pretty simple. You aren’t hitting the ball a long distance like you are with your full swing, and you don’t have to worry nearly as much about things like wind and hazards. However, as you gain experience in this game, you’ll quickly learn that strategy is a major part of chipping success.

In this section, we are going to highlight a few key strategy points to keep in mind while chipping. In addition to this list, you’ll probably develop your own strategic thoughts as time goes on and you accumulate more and more experience on the course.

  • Read chip shots like putts. With only a few exceptions, most of your chip shots are going to roll along the green for much of the distance that they travel. As such, you need to be sure to read the green properly before playing your chip shots. Which way is the ball going to break once it is on the ground and rolling? Is the shot uphill or downhill? Are there any severe slopes which threaten to dramatically alter the course of the ball as it travels along? Take a close look at the terrain that you need to navigate in order to reach the hole successfully.
  • Favor the low side. This is a classic golf tip, yet many amateur golfers seem to either ignore it or not know about it in the first place. When playing a chip shot, do your best to favor the low side of the hole so you can putt back uphill. It is almost always easier to putt uphill as compared to downhill, so placing your ball in a position under the hole makes a lot of sense. You can be more aggressive with your uphill putts, knowing the ball is unlikely to roll out very far if it does happen to miss the cup. Thinking about placing your ball on the low side of the hole is a good idea not only on your chip shots, but on most of the rest of your shots as well.
  • Get it on the green. You might think it’s pretty obvious that you need to get the ball on the green when chipping, but this is actually an important tip to keep in mind. Many golfers take on too much risk when facing tricky chip shots, trying to land the ball close to the edge of the green in an effort to chip it close. Sure, these kinds of shots can look great when they work out, but they don’t always come off like you expect. When they go wrong, you wind up hitting a second chip shot, and your score can begin to add up in a hurry. When confronted with a particularly difficult chip shot, make your first priority to simply get the ball on the green in a single stroke. It would be great to chip it close, but don’t take on too much risk in that effort.
  • Respect the lie. One of the most important things you can do from a strategic standpoint is to respect the lie of the ball in the grass. If you have a good lie – that is, a clean lie on short grass – you should be able to hit just about any kind of shot you desire. However, when you have to deal with some kind of bad lie, such as when the ball is in an old divot hole or when it is resting in the long rough, you’ll need to dial back your expectations. It is common for amateur golfers to fail to respect the lie, and those players pay the price. Always start your planning process by evaluating the lie and deciding what kinds of shots will be possible, and which should be left in the bag.
  • Keep it low. When at all possible, you want to keep the ball down close to the ground when chipping. In other words, you should opt to play low chip shots rather than high chip shots whenever possible. If you don’t have any notable obstacles between you and the hole, play a low shot and let the ball run most of the way to the target. Low chip shots are more reliable than high chip shots, and they are easier to execute under pressure. Too many golfers look to play high short game shots whenever possible, and this is a mistake. You do want to know how to hit high chip shots, of course, as they will be required from time to time when a low chip shot just isn’t going to do the job.

Making smart decisions is a big part of coming away with positive results on most of your chip shots. Basically, the goal behind all of your strategic decisions should be to make your job as the golfer as easy as possible. You are already in a bit of trouble since you are having to chip onto the green rather than having hit the putting surface with your previous shot, so keep things simple and get the ball back into position. When you blend good decision making with solid technique, very little will stand in your way with regard to excellent chipping performance.