Drill 1 Chip Shot 1

Like any good golf shot, a successful chip is accurate and travels the correct distance. Of course, these are easier to achieve when chipping because the shot and swing are short.

But in golf, easier doesn't mean easy. Despite the chip shot's seeming simplicity, many players struggle to make solid contact. Unless you consistently hit the ball crisply, you'll be plagued by distance control issues.

When chipping, the most common mishits are fat (when the club hits the ground before the ball) and thin (striking the ball well above the bottom). While the results are opposites, the cause is often a single flaw – trying to scoop the ball into the air.

Just like full shots with irons, chips must be struck with a descending blow. The club's loft does the work of sending the ball into the air. The drills in this section will teach you the proper technique needed to make chipping as simple as it looks.

Crisp Chip Shot Golf Drills

Crisp Chip Shot Golf Drills

On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate your chipping? While there are certainly some amateur golfers who excel in this area, most average players would rank their chipping performance relatively low on this scale. And that is a shame. Not only is chipping an extremely important part of the game of golf, but it is actually one of the easiest areas of your game to improve. By investing just a little bit of time and energy into this skill, you can see big rewards on the course. You will use your ability to chip during each and every round you play, so be sure not to neglect this valuable talent.

Perhaps the single most-important part of quality chipping is the ability to hit the ball crisply at impact. What does that mean? It means that you are catching the ball cleanly at the point of contact, striking the back of the ball with the center of the club face. It is common for amateur golfers to frequently hit their chip shots slightly thin or fat. When that happens, the result of the shot is unlikely to be a good one. Successful chipping comes down to controlling your distances, and controlling your distances is a matter of achieving a good strike. Dedicate yourself to hitting crisp chip shots more times than not and you will get up and down more frequently than ever before.

To help you strike your chip shots as crisply as possible, we are going to provide you with three chipping drills in this article. These drills are specifically designed to lead to crisper chip shots, but they should also help your overall performance from around the greens. As is the case with any drill, you aren't going to get any benefit from these drills if you simply read them and then never take any action. The short game is a challenging part of golf, and progress is only going to occur if you are willing to practice. Read through these drills to make sure you understand how they work, and then get out to your local golf facility to give them a try. Even if they don't all 'click' for you, there should be at least one in the group which helps you get on the path toward better chipping.

We know that it is fun to stand on the driving range and swing away at your driver. However, that driver can only take you so far in this game. Even if you were able to blast every single tee shot right down the middle of the fairway, there would still be a lot of work to do before you could record a good score. Only golfers with well-rounded games are able to achieve their scoring goals. Feel free to keep working on your driver and other areas of your bag, just make sure there is some room in there for chipping practice as well.

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.

Drill #1 – The Two-Ball Drill

Drill #1 – The Two-Ball Drill

This is a classic chipping drill, and for many golfers, it is the only one which will be necessary in order to learn how to chip the ball crisply. The setup for this drill is going to be relatively simple, and you won't need any equipment outside of what is already in your golf bag. The best drills tend to be the simple ones, and this one certainly falls into that category.

To get started with this drill, head to your local golf facility and follow the steps below.

  • Find a place to practice. Of course, to practice your chipping, you are going to have to find a chipping area at your local golf course. Most golf facilities don't like you chipping onto the regular practice green, so ask in the pro shop for permission if you don't find a dedicated chipping green somewhere else on the property. Once you find a green to use as a target, set yourself up with a clean lie in some fairway-length grass. Learning how to chip from the rough is important, of course, but this drill works best from the short stuff.
  • Gather your gear. For this drill, you will only need a wedge and a handful of golf balls. It doesn't really matter which club you use to chip, but it should at least have enough loft to get the ball up into the air. In other words, you don't want to be playing a bump-and-run shot with this drill. The recommendation would be to use a sand wedge when getting started, but you could go down to a pitching wedge or up to a lob wedge, if you so choose.
  • Complete the setup. With your chosen club in hand, place one golf ball down in front of you. This is the ball that you will actually be chipping, so set your stance in a position to hit a quality shot (the ball should be roughly in the middle of your stance). Before starting your swing, however, you are going to add another golf ball to the picture. While holding your club in the address position with one hand, reach down with your other hand and place an extra golf ball a few inches behind the club head (on an extension of the target line). The second ball should be positioned such that a low takeaway would make contact with the ball on the way back.
  • Hit the shot. Now that you have everything set to go, it is time to actually hit the shot. The goal is simple – to swing the club without hitting that second ball that you placed behind your club head. You will need to hinge your wrists to elevate the club on the backswing, and you will have to swing down into impact from above to miss the ball on the downswing. If you contact that second ball at any point, you should consider that swing to be a failure, and you should setup to try again. Feel free to hit as many of these kinds of chip shots as you would like before going back to a traditional setup without the second ball.

When executed properly, this drill is going to force you to swing into the ball on a downward plane. Hitting down on the ball is something that many amateur golfers fail to do when chipping. It is common to attempt to help the ball up into the air by swinging up through impact on chip shots. Unfortunately, that is a plan which will rarely succeed. Instead, by hitting down, you can make crisp contact and impart a healthy amount of backspin on the ball at the same time.

Once you start hitting down nicely on your chip shots, you should notice that the ball responds differently when it lands on the green. Instead of taking a big bounce and then rolling out a significant distance, the ball will likely dig in and stop relatively quickly. This gives you added control over your shots. With practice, you can learn how to use these kinds of chip shots to great effect, and you will start to get up and down at a higher rate.

Drill #2 – The One-Handed Drill

Drill #2 – The One-Handed Drill

Most of what you need to know about this drill is given away by the title. Yes – you are going to be hitting chip shots with just one hand. That might seem like a silly idea, but it is one of the best things you can do to improve the way you strike the ball while chipping. This drill is so effective that some golfers have even taken it out onto the course and started chipping with just one hand during an actual round. We don't recommend that you take it that far, but this is a great drill which will go a long way toward improving your chipping performance.

So, which hand do you think you will be chipping with in this drill? If you guessed the left, you would be correct. Follow the steps below to hit some quality practice chip shots with your left hand only.

  • To get started, you will want to have a few golf balls, a place to chip, and a wedge. Again here, you will be chipping from a good lie on some short grass. Also, you will want to use a lofted wedge like a sand wedge or lob wedge. It doesn't really matter how many golf balls you have available, but it makes sense to have at least a few just to ensure that you don't have to walk back and forth to the practice green too frequently to retrieve your shots.
  • Before setting up to hit your first shot, you should have a target in mind for these chip shots. Since you are only chipping with one hand, the shot you select should be as easy as possible. Pick a hole which is in the middle of the green, and don't position yourself where you will need to hit the ball very hard. The setup should be such that you would think the shot to be very easy if you encountered it on the course.
  • Now that your target is picked out, place a ball on the ground and take your stance. You should prepare for this shot like any other, and you should place both of your hands on the club to start with. Only when you are settled into your stance and ready to go should you take your right hand off the club. During the swing, that right hand can be slipped into your pocket or it can rest behind your back.
  • It is now time to hit the shot. Since you only have one hand to control and move the club, you are going to need to put more emphasis on your shoulders. Much like you do when putting, use your shoulder action to move the club, and use your left hand more for stabilization than anything else. Your left wrist should remain flat throughout the swing, and it should feel firm and solid at impact.
  • The first few shots you hit while performing this drill might not be pretty. That's okay – stick with it, and look for improved results as you go. As long as you pay attention to the basic fundamentals of your action, you should start to hit crisp chip shots relatively soon.

This drill is going to teach you a lot about how you can control the club in the short game without an active right hand. There is too much right hand used by most amateur golfers when chipping, and this drill is aimed at fixing just that issue. Even when you add your right hand back onto the club, don't let it do too much. Move the club mostly with your shoulders, and allow your hands to guide the club into position in order to achieve a clean strike time after time.

Drill #3 – The Over/Under Drill

Drill #3 – The Over/Under Drill

Some of the best drills you will encounter in golf don't actually address your technique in all. Instead, they are based only on outcomes, requiring you to place the ball in a specific spot on command. These kinds of drills are effective because they let you find your own way – once you know the parameters of the drill, it is up to you to hit the ball properly. In this case, you will have to hit crisp chip shots, as there is no way to succeed with this drill otherwise. Until you strike the ball crisply over and over again, you will not be able to complete this drill.

As was the case with the previous two drills, we are going to walk through this one step-by-step.

  • Again here, you are going to find an easy chip shot to get started. It is usually best to use easy shots for your drills, as you won't have the complicating factor of having to deal with a tough lie or a tricky slope. Place your golf balls on a patch of fairway grass, and pick a chip shot that leaves you with a simple path to the hole. The hole should be cut in a relatively flat section of the green, and there should be room both behind and in front of the cup.
  • Before hitting any shots, you are going to walk up to the hole with a few tees in hand. Using your wedge to measure, place a few tees one club length behind the hole, and a few tees one club length short of the hole. You are going to use these tees as distance targets for the shots you will hit.
  • Return to your chipping position and get ready to hit the first shot. To start, you are going to aim for the 'over' – meaning you will try to chip the ball past the hole, but short of the tees you have placed behind the hole. You aren't going to worry much about direction in this drill, as you are focused on simply getting the right distance.
  • Once you have hit the first shot, switch to the 'under' side of the hole and try to leave your ball between the short tees and the cup. As the drill proceeds, switch back and forth between the over and under targets until you run out of golf balls.
  • There are a variety of ways in which you can keep score during this drill. You can give yourself one point for every shot which ends up where it was supposed to, or you can simply try to run off as many successful shots in a row as you can. Give yourself a goal during the drill and work on achieving that goal before you call it quits.

In order to control your distance accurately enough to hit the over or under, you are going to have to make crisp contact with the ball. Poorly struck chip shots will never travel as far as you expect, so you can't be reliable with your distance control when striking the ball either thin or fat. Consider adding this drill to your usual routine as a way to dial in your distance control better than ever before.

A Variety of Other Chipping Tips

A Variety of Other Chipping Tips

The three drills above should help you hit crisp chip shots – after a period of practice, of course. Before we finish, we would like to offer a few other chipping tips to help round out your performance in this area of the game. These tips don't necessarily have anything to do with making crisp contact, but they are important just the same.

  • Always respect the lie. In the drills we provided you in this article, you placed the ball on the fairway grass to make the shot as easy as possible. That is a good idea in practice, but of course, you aren't going to get such great lies on the course. When you do encounter a bad lie, it is important that you respect that lie and what it allows you to do with the shot at hand. For instance, if the ball is sitting down in the rough, you aren't going to be able to spin the ball enough to stop it quickly. It doesn't matter how much you want to hit a spinning chip shot, it's just not going to happen. The sooner you learn that there is nothing you can do to fight the lie, the sooner you can become a consistent and reliable chipper.
  • Don't let it go wrong. When chipping, you are probably thinking first and foremost about getting up and down. That would mean finishing the hole in only two more shots, and that would certainly be considered a success. Unfortunately, in an effort to get down in two shots, you could quickly wind up spending four shots or more – and the rest of your round would be thrown off as a result. A chip shot can go wrong when you are too aggressive with your path to the hole. For example, if you try to land the ball just over the edge of a bunker when chipping, a slightly miss-hit shot could mean you hit the ball directly in the bunker. Now you have a whole world of trouble in front of you. Even though you are only chipping, be sure to play it safe when the possibility exists for a major mistake.
  • Think about the putt. The nice thing about hitting a chip shot is that you are close enough to the green to control your target line with relative ease. If you wanted to place the ball on the right or left side of the hole from 200 yards away, you would have to be incredibly accurate with your swing. When trying to do the same thing from 20 yards away, however, you will have no trouble at all. With that in mind, think about your upcoming putt before you even hit your chip shot. Where do you want to putt from? Which side of the hole would offer the easiest roll to finish off your up and down? Put yourself in a good position and it will be far more likely that you will knock the ball in with a single stroke of the flat stick.

It is important to be able to chip the ball crisply when playing from around the green. If you struggle with your chipping currently, we hope the drills provided in this article will help you take a big step forward. It should only take a little bit of practice time to have these drills make a positive impact on your game. With your chipping improved, you can look forward to lower scores and more fun in the near future. Good luck!