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Golf Chipping Drills & Practice Games

If you can improve your average distance to the hole from 8-feet to 4-feet when chipping you’ll notice a big difference in your ability to score. In this article I’ve put together my top drills to help you practice your short game and improve your proximity to the hole.

Below we have three great chipping drills, I’ve placed them in order – the first drill is a great option for beginners, high handicappers and refining your basics. The middle drill adds realism to your chipping practice and the final drill is a great way for advanced golfers to sharpen their chipping skills under pressure.

Chipping drill 1 – Chipping zone challenge

This first drill is great for developing your strike, consistency and distance control. Take 10 balls, choose a location around the green and set out the three target zones you see in the video below. The goal is to see how many points you can score with your 10 balls.

Start with a simple 10, 15 or 20-yard chip shot and see if you can score 20 points. If you are short of time just measure the target zones roughly once you’ve hit all 10 shots – a standard men’s 9-iron length is the radius of each ring.

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?
  2. You can use that information 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.
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.

Try to play this chipping game once a week and keep your scores to track your chipping skills as they progress.

Chipping drill 2 – Par 18

After playing Par 18 for 20 years it is still one of my favourite practice games and one I still give to many amateur and elite players today. It really captures the realism of getting up and down on the golf course.

9 locations around the green, 1 iron for chipping, 1 putter, 1 ball. If you take one chip and one putt from the 9 spots you’ll hit the target of par 18 – if only it was that simple in reality! Check out the video below.

Create your own version of this drill around a putting or chipping green at your home course. If you can, include the same type of shots you face when you play, with a blend of difficulties – 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. Playing this game with a friend gives it a real competitive edge.

Also, mix up the clubs you use. Play it once with a wedge, then try the same course with an 8 or 9-iron. You might be surprised how much easier certain shots are just by switching the club you chip with.

Chipping drill 3 – Tailor’s pitching challenge

This last game can be used for chipping or pitching. You can play this on a chipping green or sneak it into 9 holes play if you have access to a short course or a quiet 9 holes.

Five attempts from your chosen distance (I recommend starting from 15 – 20 yards) add up your total footage for the 5 shots. I like to use this game for developing pitching and chipping skills under pressure. Set yourself a target that your total footage for the 5 shots must be under 30-feet (average shot within 6-feet) before you can leave the chipping green. Then see if you can complete this task in 30 minutes short game practice.

You’ll start to feel a little tension and pressure for that last shot when you need to hit it close.

The scoring system in this game really punishes a bad shot. Knowing this just adds an ounce of extra pressure as you stand over each shot.

Again, adapt this to your short game needs. The game works equally well for short chip shots as it does for bunker shots or pitches out of the rough.

How to practice chipping each week

If you are wanting to up-skill your short game these three drills will really help. Ideally pick one game and play it once a week for a month, keeping track of your best score.

If you can, add 10-15 minutes at the end of your chipping practice to work on your technique. Mastering your strike and dynamic loft are two key ingredients required for a consistent ball flight and great distance control. Check out this article on chipping tips for more technical info.

Also, for more short game drills check out Jamie’s article over at Golfer Geeks.

How will these chipping games improve my scoring?

When you dig into golfing stats you quick realise that hitting an approach shot to 12-feet rather than 18-feet makes almost zero difference to your scoring. It may feel good, but your handicap will not budge.

However, there is a golden scoring distance between 2 and 10-feet, whereby every foot closer to the hole will dramatically increase your conversion rate and scoring. The best golfers, putting on the best greens in the world, average just over a 50% conversion rate from 5 – 10 feet. Whereas, inside 5-feet these numbers swiftly move up to 70-95%.

The chipping games outlined in this article get you focused on hitting shots as close as possible. They give little reward for shots finishing outside 10-feet and heavily reward shots inside 3-feet.

Keep this golden scoring distance in mind next time you head out to practice.

Chipping games summary

I hope these three games give you some great ways to progress your short game and scores. For more information on chipping technique check out this article on how to chip.

If you would like more practice ideas come sign up for the Golf Insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK

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Will Shaw, PhD, MSc, PGA Pro

Will is a PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. He spent 10 years lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds in Biomechanics and Motor Control before becoming the Head of Golf for the University of Exeter. He currently runs Golf Insider UK, Sport Science Insider around wider consulting and academic roles in sport performance and motor control.

3 thoughts on “Golf Chipping Drills & Practice Games”

  1. Thank you, I have been thinking for awhile of a way to incorporate statistical analysis into my practice . Something along these lines. Now, a clever way of recording or note taking would be useful. Picking up and putting down a note book seems clumsy. Any ideas? Thanks, Brett

    • Hi Brett,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I looked at building a tech solution, however with previous experience of building an app I know how much on-going maintenance and storage costs are associated even with a simple app. The journal approach is retro, but I love that you can create shot distributions, edit, make notes and adapt as you see fit.

      The performance diary I put together isn’t perfect, but it is a great way of working in the same way I help pros – getting a basic routine in place. Each week you should play ~ analyse ~ practice ~ measure ~ repeat. It is very obvious but very effective.

      Let me know if you come across other solutions. Hopefully in the future I’ll keep building better tool. However, in the mean time I’m back to slaying my PhD.

      I hope the golf is going well.


    • I use my phone at the end of each skill/practice drill set to take notes, record score etc. I then move on to the next practice/skill drill and do the same, once I’ve finished I update my performance diary when I return and add the notes recorded on my phone. It’s quite easy to set up a spreadsheet to drop scores in on your phone, many apps out there for that.



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