Golf chipping: The ultimate guide from beginner to pro

In this article we will improve your golf chipping no matter what your current standard. We will start with golf chipping tips for beginners and teach you how to chip a golf ball.  We will progress onto how to improve your golf chipping as a club player, before we look at how to chip like a pro.

There is a lot of information, so use the links below to navigate to the appropriate section. Each section assumes that you already have the previous pieces in place. If you’re not sure where to start just skim through from the top.

Golf chipping tips for beginners – How to chip a golf ball
Golf chipping guide for club golfers – I want to get the ball closer to the hole

Golf chipping thoughts and drills to become elite – I need to build a great chipping skill-set

Golf chipping tips for beginners

The aim of golf chipping is to carry the ball onto or close to the green and get it rolling out towards the hole. To do this you need to have good distance control and direction.

In this first section I will teach you how. To begin with, remember the following:

“The foundation of a great chipping game is a solid, CONSISTENT strike”

Golf chipping: How to set up

There are three changes you need to make from your full swing set up for golf chipping. These are listed below and shown in the video.

  1. Hold further down the golf grip and shuffle closer to the golf ball. This gives you more control for your chip shots.
  2. Have your feet closer together. They don’t have to be as close as mine in the video, but this change helps your body rotate back and through as you chip.
  3. Have slightly more weight going through your front foot (around 60%). This makes it easy to strike your chip shots, as we will discuss below.

Golf chipping swing

Once you have this set up masters try to copy the golf chipping swing in the video above.

From your set up you only need to feel a little turn of your body back and through and the ball will pop up into the air and move forward. Watch the video again and notice how the wrists stay firm throughout the swing into the finish.

Ensuring your body turns back and through and keeping your arms and hands quite stable gives you a great foundation to build your chipping in the future. No matter what club you use to chip with this technique stays the same.

“Once you have the basics, experiment with different clubs and see what shots you can hit”

Your key golf chipping swing thought – What most beginners get wrong

When your golf chipping set up and swing feel comfortable. Here are the key points to focus on.

    1. Take a practice swing before each chip shot. This practice swing should replicate exactly how you want to hit your up-coming chip shot.
  1. Aim to brush the grass under the golf ball as you make your chip shot. As long as you do this, the golf ball will get up in the air and move forwards.

Most beginners (and even some club players) try to help the ball up in to the air. This is incorrect and leads to all sorts of miss-hit shots. Instead, your aim is to strike slightly down on the golf ball and keep the club head low to the ground. Let the loft on the golf club help the ball up into the air.

golf chipping beginners
Keep your club head low through impact. You’ll be amazed at the difference in strike.
“Push your golf club through impact, rather than try to flick the golf ball up into the air”

The point, highlighted in bold above the picture, is possibly the most important golf chipping tip to remember as a beginner golfer. Move the club through impact and keep it low to the ground just after. The loft on the golf club will do all the work.

FAQ beginner chipping guide: What club should I chip with?

Many beginner golfers get hung up on this point. However, it isn’t important. Your golf clubs with higher lofts (Pitching and Sand Wedge) will have a higher trajectory and not go as far. Your lower lofted clubs will launch lower and roll out further.

Play around and have some fun. Your set up and golf chipping technique stays the same for every shot. You only have to change the club and the loft on the golf club does the rest for you.

Below is an example 20-yard chip shot with a 9-iron and lob wedge (60 degrees). Both are equally useful shots.


Jump to summary

Golf chipping tips for intermediates

Golf chipping tips for intermediates is a broad google search. Many of the areas we cover are skills I still work on with scratch players. However, once you have mastered the basics in section one, here are the key golf chipping points to consider.

At this stage we’re aiming to improve your distance control and reduce your average putt distance you have to save par, or make birdie. Just averaging two feet closer with your chip shots can considerably lower your scores.

The average putting conversion rate from 6 feet on the US PGA tour is only around 70%, this jumps to 92.7% at 4 feet. This tells you one thing – if the best guys in the world only convert 7 out of 10 putts from 6 feet – you and I need to get our chips closer to the pin!

If you want some putting help here is a post with some geeky putting tips to improve your holing out percentage.

As much as accuracy is important when chipping, for most club players, distance control is the real killer on the length. Poor distance control leads to long putts and less pars and birdies. Below is a three step guide to improve your distance control.

Step 1 – Create the same flight and strike for every chip shot

You want to be able to hit 5 chips in a row, with each strike feeling the same, launching at the same trajectory and going the same distance.

Here are two golf chipping tips to help you achieve that.

1. Master your golf chipping posture and balance

Notice the lines I’ve drawn on below. these posture angles all lead to a set up where the weight is distributed through the centre of my feet. These angles and this balance should be present throughout your golf chipping action.

Golf chipping set up angles. Set up with your spine in a neutral position and a little knee flex. Feel athletic and balanced.
Set up with your spine in a neutral position and a little knee flex. Feel athletic and balanced.
“Balance test: Set up to chip and close your eyes. As you swing back and through pay attention to how the pressure shifts across your feet”

This balance test really highlights how much your weight shifts during your golf chipping. If this area needs work you can practice it at home without a ball, but work up to hitting chip shots on a chipping green with your eyes shut. It’s a great drill to master.

When you get comfortable with this drill try the following challenge to develop feel:

  1. Set up and adjust your aim to a target.
  2. Shut your eyes and hit the chip shot.
  3. Before you open your eye guess how far short or long your chip has finished of your target, based purely on the feel of your strike.
2. Build a rock solid chipping impact

Once you have a consistent strike there are two other variables that will affect your distance control – club head velocity and dynamic loft at impact.

Dynamic loft is just a fancy term to describe the loft on a golf club at impact. For example, a Sand Wedge may have 56 degrees of loft. However, based on how a player orientates a club at impact it may have more or less than 56 degrees when it strikes the golf ball.

A solid impact position tends to have the hands ahead of the club head at impact, as pictured below. This position de-lofts golf clubs – hence the dynamic loft whilst chipping is usually less than what is written on the golf club.

The key to great chipping distance control is to build a chipping technique where the dynamic loft and club head velocity change very little through impact (10 cm each side of impact).

golf chipping technique

To do this you need  keep a solid line between your left arm and the club shaft, as shown in the picture above. A break down in this angle causes a dramatic change to both club head velocity and dynamic loft. These changes play havoc with distance control.

This small technical point is why most amateurs feel pros have some sort of super-human touch. They don’t, they just have a far easier tool (chipping technique) to use, and they practice a lot!

Last point in this section, but it is an important one. If your body doesn’t rotate through to your target, you will never achieve the action above.

“Body stops = hands flick – focus on great body rotation”

So focus on a narrow stance (see beginners guide), good posture angles at set up before you attune to this point. With these foundations in place you can make a chipping swing where the body rotation does all the work, and the hands and arms stay passive.

How to practice to become a great chipper

To begin with, invest in 10-20 balls that are all the same make and type. These can be your short game practice balls. 

Check prices for near mint Pro v1s USA

Check prices for near mint Pro v1s on amazon

Technical practice for golf chipping

Hit 10 shots to a target, but focus  entirely on producing a consistent strike and ball flight. Once you have hit 10 shots, repeat this process with a different club.

Keep practicing like this until a great strike feel automatic.

Developing feel and touch

To play great golf, we need the ability to predict what action is needed and then execute it. In neuroscience we call this first stage forward planning. This ability to predict what is need for a golf shot plays a big role in what we describe as touch and feel.

If you want to learn more about forward planning read this article.

You can’t separate these two components, but the key is to realise a great chipping technique alone will not give you the ability to execute shots. You also need to be able to sub-consciously plan exactly how the golf ball will come out of every lie, what the trajectory will be and how the ball will bounce and roll out towards the hole.

being intelligent with how you practice can speed up your development of touch and feel. To do this you should use some variable chipping practice. Here are some great chipping games for you to play that involve a good amount of variability.

Want more great practice ideas and a way to track your progress?
Check out the golf Insider performance diary
Golf insider performance diary. Helps you keep track of the stats that matter.
Want help to practice more effectively? Check out the Golf Insider Performance Diary.

 

FAQ intermediate chipping guide: How do I know when to hit different chip shots?

There is no right  chip shot to play from each location. You should always be thinking about a way to potentially hole the shot, but also consider what gives you the greatest percentage chance of being inside 4 feet? This latter thought is the critical factor in great scoring.

“Great players find a way to get the ball close. Average players choose the shot they feel they should play”

When you play the practice games above, mix up the clubs you use. When you are playing on the golf course select the shot you feel most comfortable playing.


Jump to summary

Golf chipping guide for the elite

At this point I’d love to spend some one on one time with you. However, I have no idea where you will be around the world when you read this. Instead, here are some thoughts, ideas and concepts to help you self-develop your short game skills.

Your aim is to build a skill set that can endanger the hole from anywhere inside 30 yards. A lot of your skill will come from experimentation and understanding how to can manipulate your set up to control what the golf ball does.

Let’s get going!

Golf chipping technique to be elite

The chipping strike of champions

Your strike isn’t good enough or consistent enough – it needs to get better. I was recently at the British open looking at golf tournament preparation. I can’t tell you the difference in strike and short game skills between the world’s top 20 and the rest of the players. Dustin Johnson is incredible from 30 yards.

Video your set up from face on and down the line and master the basics. I’ve covered these in the first to section, but here is a little extra detail.

If you look at my set up below, you’ll notice my spine is a little flexed (hunched over). I would give myself 7/10 for set up posture.

Golf chipping set up angles. Set up with your spine in a neutral position and a little knee flex. Feel athletic and balanced.
By improving my posture I will align the vertebra in my spine and allow a much freer rotation back and through.

I get away with this poor posture for short chips, but when I get to longer chip shots it will affect my body rotation through shots. You can see on the videos throughout this article that this has a knock on effect of me struggling to hold onto the consistent angles (left arm and club shaft) as I rotate through my shots. This in-turn affects the dynamic loft and club head velocity at impact.

All this means I’m not quite as consistent as I would like to be. The key message – go back and really master the basics first.

You can ask my golfing friends how annoyingly good my chipping is most of the time, but after videoing myself for this article I realise getting this basic fault ironed out would get me back to my best.  

Step 1: Video your chipping technique and check all the points discussed in this piece – leave no stone unturned

The club face cheat to hole chips and get extra spin

Most players rotate well through their chip shots and allow the club face to do the same. Elite players disassociate these two.

Aim to rotate your body though, but keep the badge of your glove pointing to the target as you move through and past impact. This keeps your club face squarer to your target for much longer. It also keeps loft on your golf club after impact.

The result – increased accuracy and shots that grab a little more when they land. Master this from 20 feet first, then keep the same feeling as you move back towards 20 – 30 yards.

Golf chipping tiger woods
Check out how Tiger has rotated through his chip shot, but his club face has stayed square to his target.

Bonce on the golf club

These days you often hear coaching pros saying “you need to use the bounce on the golf club”. Yes, this is true, but if you master your basic set up and body rotation this will happen. I will write an in-depth article on this at some point, but I would suggest if you basics are good using bounce isn’t the limiting factor stopping you becoming a world-class chipper.

Golf chipping practice to be elite

It would be very easy for me to tell you to practice more. This probably would help, but I would consider myself a poor performance coach. Here is my guide to optimise your rate of development.

Golf chipping practice – step 1

Play this short game challenge on the practice ground and work out your average proximity to the hole for all eight shots.

The aim is to get chip shots inside 3 feet as frequently as possible and start holing shots more often. Getting shots inside 3/4-feet is the critical cusp at which putting conversion increases dramatical. Therefore, we should focus on this point.

Golf chipping practice – step 2

Using the data you collected above spend time on those shots where your average proximity is currently 7-10 feet. These are the shots where you will see scoring gains, if you can make a little improvement in your average proximity.

Start by hitting chip shots in blocks of 10-20 (the same shot over and over) and pay attention to where the shots finish (short, long, left or right). When you have this information look back at your technique and refine it accordingly – you may need a good coach here.

When you have ironed out these faults, repeat your blocked chipping practice but this time drop 10 balls and play the shots from where they lie. You will be staggered how much this throws off your consistency.

Golf chipping practice – step 3

Keep repeating this process until that specific chip shot is dialled in. Then take your next weakest chip shot and repeat the process.

Golf chipping skill set – build a great tool kit

The last point I will cover here is how to build many different chipping shots. Many coaches say you need to learn to hit chip shots to create different trajectories and spins. This is true, but I feel another key point of building a tool kit of chip shots is so that you can deal with different lies.

You want have a set of chip shots that get you out of any situation, but also are highly predictable in their outcome.

I have some chip shots in my toolkit that are horrible and grubby. But I know they will come out of a bad lie and consistently bumble forwards when they land – my god, they have served me well.

How to you build a tool kit? Experimentation is the key. The core factors you will be manipulating are – dynamic loft, angle of approach, spin loft and club head velocity.  Below are the key technical factors to tinker with to better understand how these work and to build a great tool kit of golf chip shots.

Ball position

Start by altering your ball position for a little chip shot. Hit chip shots from your 1) standard set up 2)  the ball further back in your stance and 3) the ball further forward in your stance. These change all the impact factors mentioned above and make a difference to the launch angle, distance and release.

Face angle

The second factor to play with is how square, open or closed your club face is. Yes, thats right I said closed. An open club face increases the club’s bounce and gives you more loft to work with. This is great for popping up shots out of the rough.

However, closing the club face reduces the bounce, and helps the toe dig down and through an awkward lie. If you have a really bad lie in the rough, and green to work with, this shot can be a really handy shot.

For any situation within 30 yards you want to have 2-3 great options for getting the ball inside 4-feet. This relies on you have great control over the golf balls trajectory and landing. Always pick the option that will minimise the proximity you have left to the hole. As this will optimise your scrambling percentage and your scores.

Here is a short video to show you how altering club face angle and ball position together can create very different shots with the same club. Pay attention to the trajectory and landing these three different set ups create with a Sand Wedge.

Your aim is to truly understand how you can control every aspect of the golf ball’s trajectory and release. I’ll leave you to experiment.

Golf chipping skills games to be elite

Once you have your technique and shot options on point practice. Aim to practice with a real purpose, try to hole every shot you hit, even in practice. Here a three great skills games to help you on your quest of building a world-class short game.

Golf chipping: the ultimate guide conclusion

I really hope you found this guide useful, because wow it took some time! If you have comments and question leave them below. I will carry on building this resource for you over time.

What ever your current golfing chipping level, I recommend the following – Write down the two most important points from this article. Practice these for two weeks then video your chipping action again. This will give you feedback and allow you to continually refine your two points until they feel natural. Once they no longer need conscious thought come back here for the next stage.

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Happy golfing – Will