In this article we’ll cover the basics of how to chip. This is the exact method I’ve used to coach hundreds of golfers – it is simple, effective and I’ve also included some great practice games.
The aim of chipping
The aim of chipping is to carry the ball over the fairway or rough where you ball has finished on to the green. From there the ball should bounce, roll and hopefully finish next to or in the hole.
There are three fundamentals you need in order to chip well:
- Consistent strike
- Consistent ball speed
- Consistent ball trajectory / launch
If you can build a chipping action that creates these three attributes then you’ll become excellent around the greens. You’ll then be able to use the same chipping technique with different clubs to create many different types of chip shots.
Key thought when chipping
The biggest mistake golfers make when chipping is trying to help the ball up in the air. This creates a flicky action and very little margin for error. This results in hitting the ground before the ball and/or thinning the golf ball through the green.
Instead of trying to help the ball up, focus on brushing the grass under the ball and allow the loft on the golf club to do all of the work for you. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you have the golf club swinging through level, or slightly down you have a large window to make contact between the club face and golf ball.
Whereas, when you try to help the ball up, you have a tiny margin for error between hitting the ground behind the ball, or hitting half way up the golf ball (red arrow above).
Keep this same thought in your head for every chip shot you hit. If you want to hit your chip shots higher, choose a more lofted club, or open the club face, but for every shot focus on brushing the grass under the ball as you swing through.
How to chip
Now you have the key idea for consistent chipping, let us dive into the technical aspects of a great chipping action.
How you stand dictates everything that follows in your chipping action, so if you can spend a little time mastering your setup, chipping will become very easy.
The video below shows you three simple changes to move from your normal golfing stance to a chipping setup.
- Hold further down the golf grip and shuffle closer to the golf ball. This gives you more control for your chip shots.
- 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.
- Have slightly more weight through your front foot (around 60%). This makes it easier to strike your chip shots – we’ll look at this in more detail below.
Once you have this set-up mastered, try to copy the golf chipping swing in the video above.
From your set-up you only need to generate a small 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.
Chipping swing thought
As we discussed earlier, most beginners (and many 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 brush the grass under the ball as the club continues to move towards your target.
A great swing thought is to swing the club towards your target keeping the club head low to the ground.
This keeps the club accelerating through impact and encourages you to turn your body through to the target and minimises any flicking of your wrists – all three are traits of great chippers.
How to control the distance of your chip shots
Once you have the basic technique controlling your distance is a breeze.
- For shorter chips make a short swing back and through.
- For longer chips make a longer swing back and through.
Use the length of your chipping swing to control distance, rather than trying to hit the ball harder.
Should your backswing and through swing always be the same length?
Roughly speaking yes, but if you make a positive swing through impact you’ll find your follow through is slightly longer than your backswing. This is ideal.
How to practice chipping
Take 5 balls and walk back 10-yards away from a hole on a chipping green. Chip each ball with your 9-iron and see how many shots you can get within 1-club length (3 pts) and 2-club lengths (1 pt).
Now move back to 15-yards and repeat the game.
Keep moving between these two distances will really help you learn how to chip and how to use the length of your chipping swing to control distances. For more golf chipping games check out this article
What club is best to chip with?
My top tip would be to practice all options (6-iron up to lob wedge), then choose the club you feel most comfortable with when playing. There is no right or wrong choice, but below we’ll run through some tips to help you decide when to use each option.
When to chip with a 7, 8, 9-iron
Chip shots with these irons will fly low and roll out more than they will fly through the air. Use them when you have a small area of fringe in front of you and a large length of green between you and the hole.
When to chip with a PW, SW or Lob wedge
Chip shots with your wedges will fly higher and carry through the air more than they will roll along the ground. Use these clubs when you have very little green to work with, or you have an obstacle to get over.
Your wedges are also a great option when your ball is in rough grass. The shorter shaft means you can create a steeper swing into the back of the ball and the extra loft will help pop the ball up into the air.
How to chip and make it stop
There are two factors that will make your chip shots stop quickly, decent angle of the golf ball and backspin. Most golfers try to get more backspin on their chips, but increasing the trajectory of your chip shots is a far easier way to get your chip shots to stop quickly.
Why do I shank chip shots?
A shank is caused when the ball hits the hosel of the club rather than the centre of the club face. The main cause is starting with too much weight on your heels at setup. During your swing your weight will move towards the centre of your feet, making the club head shift further out, causing you to hit the hosel rather than the centre of the club face, resulting in a shank.
To prevent this, setup with your weight over the mid-points of your feet and stay balanced throughout your swing. If you really struggle, setup with your weight more towards your toes – from here the only way you’ll make contact with the hosel is if you fall over!
How to chip – Summary
Now you’ve mastered the basics of how to chip why not check out our more advanced chipping tips guide and this article on how to hit a bunker shot. Or if you would like a weekly article like this one emailed to you come join the Golf Insider weekly post.
Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider UK
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