Golf chipping practice: 3 skills games to lower your scores

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending a tour event you will know just how good the pros are around the greens. If you wish to lower your scores, short game practice is one of the best areas to spend time. In this article we will cover three ways to practice and progress your golf chipping. We also cover the small details that will optimise your rate of skill development.

Golf chipping: Am I getting better?

If you already practice your golf chipping then well done, you are ahead of most. However, most golfers’ idea of chipping practice is to casually throw down a few balls, and chip each towards a hole. Then repeat this from a new location, until they feel happy with their work is done.

This will help, but is ineffective. My questions to these golfers are always – How do you know you are getting better week on week? Are you practicing in a way that is best for you? And have you created a precise aim/goal for your short game practice this week?

Even some pros I work with can’t answer these questions, so don’t feel bad. You’ll be pleased to hear that after reading this article you’ll have far more firepower to start improving your short game. Let’s get going.

Golf chipping practice: Where to start

Your golf practice should match your needs. To decide what to practice, you first need to understand your own game.

By analysing where your shots finish around the green you can target your short game practice. This shows a playing stats page from The Golf Insider Performance Diary.
By analysing where your shots finish around the green you can target your short game practice. This shows a playing stats page from The Golf Insider Performance Diary.

Do you frequently leave yourself 20 – 40 yards, or short chip and runs? Are lofted shots common, or do you play lots of chip and runs? Your chipping practice should reflect your performance needs. Keep a track of the distance and type of shots you come across each time you play. This information is the first step you need to build a short game practice plan.

If you wish to add another layer on top of this, you can place a tick or cross next to each approach shot you note down. This will tell you how successful you are for certain shots.

Good isn’t good enough

The next point to take into your chipping practice is this – shots that finish outside five feet are not useful to you. The best golfers, putting on the best greens in the world average just over 50% conversion rate from 5 – 10 feet. I hope you’re a tour standard putter, but I’m going to assume most of us reading this are not. This 50% conversion rate goes through the roof when we leave ourselves putts of 3-5 feet. You need to get so good at chipping that you frequently leave yourself inside five feet, and ideally next to, or in the hole.

Start golf chipping practice with volume

Once you have a key distance and shot type to practice you’re good to go. Start by practicing the same shot over and over. This is known as blocked practice. The game below can be adapted for the golf chipping distance and shot type you wish to focus on.

This way of practicing your golf chipping serves three key purposes:

  1. You can see the spread of your shots. Do they finish short, long, left or right? Patterns soon emerge, take note of them.
  2. You can use the spread of your shots to refine your technique. Hitting the same shot over and over is a good way to test, tinker and refine your technique.
  3. You have a fun way to practice and measure your skill level.

If you can, play your own version of this skills game once a week or more. Keep your scores and watch your chipping skill progress. Each time you play, look at your shot spread and use that information to hone in on how to score more points next time.

Golf chipping practice: make it real

Once you have refined your basic ability you need to simulate performing. One of my favourite games for this is called Par 18.  Watch the video below.

Create you’ve own version of this around a putting or chipping green at your home course. If you can, ensure it focuses on the same type(s) of shots you face when you play. However, give yourself a mix of difficulties. Try to build in three easy, three medium and three hard shots.

When playing Par 18 you should focus on the decision making process. For each shot consider your shot-selection and go through your routine. Take it seriously and make a note of your score. Play this game with a friend gives it a real competitive edge.

Keep a note of your skills games each week for golf chipping. The Golf Insider Performance Diary makes it easy to keep track of your skills games set up and scores. Keep playing these each week and you scores will lower.
Keep a note of your skills games each week. The Golf Insider Performance Diary makes it easy to keep track of your skills games set up and scores. Keep playing these each week and you scores will lower.

Keep playing the same ‘Par 18 course’ each week and make a note of your progress. When you shoot 19 or less, and want a way to make it more difficult just get in touch. I will give you a twist that will infuriate you, but I promise it will help your golf chipping too. 😉

Take your golf chipping to the golf course

The last game aims to reduce the gap between your chipping practice ability and golf chipping on the course. If you’re playing a few practice holes out on the course try the following skills game.

The scoring system in this game really punishes a bad shot. Knowing this just adds an ounce of pressure as you stand over each shot. Again, you should adapt this to your short game needs. It works equally well for short chips and shots out of the rough. If you want to keep it simple just measure your worst distance from each batch.

However, ensure your version of this game punishes the bad shots. Based on the PGA tour stats, we don’t care too much if you chip it to 1 or 3 feet. However, adding extra footage on outside 5 feet really will impact your up and downs percentage and final score!

As you improve your short game these three games can be adapt to match your needs. Keep track of your scores, and take note of the small details each time you play them. These are the real secrets to optimise your rate of skill development.

I hope these three games really give you some great ways to progress your short game and scores. If you would like more, just sign up to the golf insider’s weekly post.

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Many thanks & happy golfing.