Chip Shot For Golf – Essential To Your Success
Mastering the chip shot is really an integral part of your golf game. There are countless times throughout a round that you will need to lean on this type of shot to get yourself on the putting surface. Note that when I’m talking about a chip shot for golf, there are many different ways to approach the shot and will be dependent on yardage, the ball height you require, whether you’re chipping uphill or downhill and the thickness of grass you are taking your shot from.
Let’s take a look at the different situations and what kind of technique and club selection is required to get that ball on the green and really try to shave some strokes off your game in the process. Once you establish a good chipping technique that’s half the battle. Sure some shots will be a little trickier than others but by building a solid foundation and good fundamentals all your shots will revolve around the same approach.
Setup For Success
Establishing a proper setup is crucial. That is your base and starting point for achieving a successful shot. You really want to start with a narrow stance, your back foot slightly ahead of the other foot and playing the ball almost off the inside of that back foot if you were drawing an imaginary line to the ball. Your body should have a slight lean towards the target to help promote a downward strike to the back of the ball. The hands should be slightly ahead of the ball and you want to grip your club as you would your putter, choking down on the club for extra control. Make sure you have a little knee flex going on as well.
Visualize, see the shot before you hit it and look at the spot where you want the ball to land. Hold the club softly and open your stance towards the target line. Keep your head up and back straight, no tension in the arms. A bad habit to get into is hunching over the ball, so make that extra effort to focus on your posture every time and you’ll be giving yourself a great chance to succeed.
Great Shot Execution
The chipping stroke is pretty straightforward. It’s really a back and then forward type of approach controlled by the shoulders more than the arms and hands. You do not need a lot of force as it is more of a touch and feel type of shot. Start the backswing with the shoulders and allow the arms and hands to follow.
You are really trying to establish that 1-2 kind of tempo, without rushing your backswing or forward swing. Strike the back of the ball and let the loft of the club do the work. This is at the most a half swing as you bring the club back and more often than not it is really going to be maybe a quarter swing.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is cupping the wrists and trying to help the ball in the air. Do not do this! It is extremely important to keep the arms and wrists straight and let the shoulders initiate the forward movement. Your wrists will then uncock naturally through the process.
The Right Club Selection
Your choice of clubs is going to vary depending on the technique you are intending. If it’s a long chip and you’re looking for more roll than ball flight, I would go with something like a 6 or 7 iron. This technique is often referred to as a bump and run technique. When attempting a shorter chip you could go with a sand wedge or lob wedge and give yourself a bit more height and less roll once the ball hits the putting surface.
If you’re caught up in the greenside rough I would recommend a 60 degree wedge like your lob wedge to give you some much needed loft. Put more of your weight on that front foot and make sure to grip the club more firmly as the rough will try to twist your clubface. Make a very upright backswing and on the downswing you want to expend force downward to penetrate the grass and pop the back of the ball. If you hit down sharply, there generally won’t be any type of follow through.
When your ball is in the fringe or in short, light rough around the green you could opt to use a 3 wood as your chip shot to give it just a slight bump onto the green. You’re going to want to choke way down below the grip and treat it like a putter, popping the clubface into the back of the ball and letting it roll up to the pin. This shot is very much about touch and feel on how much force you want to use but with the proper technique you will find this far superior to use than trying to use your putter off the fringe.
When Not To Chip
On a few occasions in your round of golf you will find yourself in tough situations where you will need to pull off a very skilled shot. If you happen to be just on the other side of a greenside bunker and pin placement is right at the front of the green directly straight ahead, you really don’t want to chip on and have the ball roll to the far side of the green. You may have to test your luck with a flop shot approach.
Start by opening up your stance and the clubface and have the ball position off your front heel. I like a wide stance and you want your body to stay pretty quiet, using just your shoulders, arms and hands. You want a long swing and quick acceleration through impact on the ball, sliding the club under the ball and a full follow through.
You will be using a 60 degree lob wedge and trying to aim for the toe of the club to deaden the shot and gain a high trajectory, while landing the ball softly and sticking it close to the pin with minimal roll. It can be a difficult shot to pull off but a very rewarding one when you do!
Just know your limitations and do not attempt a flop shot unless you have a decent lie and the ball is sitting up on the grass. If you are on a flat surface or the ball is sitting down in the grass you run the risk of chunking the ground or skulling the ball.
Mastering The Short Game
Much like putting, the chip shot for golf is an essential part of your game that you need to focus on. Without a doubt, it will knock strokes off your game rapidly if you master the different techniques and make smart choices with your club selection and touch on the ball. With proper setup, visualization and execution you will be well on your way to a more enjoyable and successful round of golf each and every time you step on the course. Don’t forget to take the time to practice your chipping techniques and feel free to reach out to me in the comments below if you have any questions.