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Chipping

WHEN

  • A chip is used when you can no longer putt the ball safely.
  • A chip shot is a low trajectory shot with more roll time than air time (land the ball several paces on the green to get the ball rolling like a putt asap).
  • A chip shot has a limited range.
  • A pitch is used when a chip would no longer safely fly the ball on the green.

SET UP

  • Width of stance is narrow (personal preference, I prefer several inches apart with ball position off right big toe for right-handed players).
  • Slightly open stance (35-45 degrees) for better line of sight.
  • Shift body weight firmly to front foot with knees slightly flexed. Like putting, pinch your knees together for stability if you prefer. Keeping your hands “high” to keep the heel of the club from catching the turf, shift your hands in front of your left thigh, commonly called a forward press resulting in forward shaft lean to insure a downward hit and to prevent “fat” contact.
  • Your head should be entirely in front of the ball as well.
  • Place your hands down to the end of the grip for added control and feel.

TECHNIQUE

  • Use a pendulum, straight back and through swing that is controlled by the back, shoulders, biceps and forearms; no forearm rotation for simple chips.
  • Wrists are “frozen” during the swing.
  • Back swing and forward swing should be equal in length, keeping your head extremely steady.
  • Accelerate through the ball.
  • Maintain the forward press through the entire swing. Never let the club head travel in front of your lead hand (left hand for right-handed players).
  • Angle of approach is a bit steep (downward strike, don’t help the ball into the air).
  • Back swing tempo should be smooth and steady, not fast and jerky.
  • Forward swing tempo should be smooth and firm (aggressive) mirroring the tempo of your full swing.

STRATEGY

  • Using the same swing for each club, try to hit your target spot on the green (several paces on the green and the same distance from the fringe for each club).
  • Let the club’s loft control how much the ball rolls.
  • With a dead hands swing, a pitching wedge will roll the same distance it flies. This 1:1 ratio increases to 1:2 when you use a 9 iron, 1:3 with an 8 iron and so on. For example, an 8 iron that flies 15’ will roll approx. 45’. A ball chipped with a sand wedge will roll about half as far as the ball flew.
  • Take more or less club for an uphill or downhill shot rather than changing swing mechanics (swinging harder, softer, etc.).
  • Use less forward press with the longer clubs (7-4irons) and possibly more for the pitching, sand and lob wedges.
  • Make sure your back swing is slower in nature and not too long.
  • No lower body movement during this shot, maintain the left side weight distribution through the entire swing.

DRILLS

  • Become a proficient chipper using your 9 and 7 irons. The most common mistake I see is people using too much loft for a simple chip shot.
  • Practice chipping to the same hole or to a specific distance using every club in your bag and you will quickly gain a feel for what it takes to roll the ball a desired distance.
  • To practice chipping with a pitching wedge or sand wedge, place the ball several feet off the green and chip to a hole several feet on the green. Practice until you hole two balls. Do this every time you practice your short game and your chipping will quickly improve.
  • Mentally you are trying to hole every chip.