It’s universally acclaimed that the short game in golf is more important than the long game. Because you need more finesse on your shots to hole the ball. And chipping has been a fundamental part of the short game, probably more than putting.
However, most of the new players and some expert players still struggle with the chip shots. It looks very simple when you watch it on TV or see another player taking the shot at the course. The reality is different for them.
That’s why we’ve created this chipping guide. In this guide, we’re going to include factors like what a chip shot exactly is, how do you select the right club for the shot, how to adjust your body for this shot, and so on.
In the end, we’re going to share one simple trick that’ll help you overcome any consistency issues you might be having with your chipping.
Without any further ado, let’s get started.
What is a Chipping Shot in Golf?
In general, the shot you take right before getting to the putting green is known as the chip. Many players target to chip it in right with this shot. By chipping it in, we mean that they try to hole the ball without ever getting to putting.
Chip shots are usually taken from right outside the putting green. The grass texture is usually very much like the fairway in this area.
The chip shot looks like the ball goes up in the air for a brief moment and then lands on the green for rolling. Depending on how you planned your shot, you may hole the ball with the right chipping shot. If you manage to do so, it’ll be one of the most satisfying things you can do as a golf player.
We hope that after you read this guide, you’ll dedicate enough time for your practice and maybe achieve what we just talked about very soon.
Now, let’s get on to how you can select the right club for the job.
How to Select the Right Club for the Shot?
For the majority of the players, the instinct is to go with a chipping wedge no matter what. That’s what it’s for, right?
Well, you won’t be wrong. But there’s more room for argument than you may have realized. The chipping wedge or the sand wedge, whatever you might want to call it, has a spectacularly high loft of 65 degrees. It helps to get the ball in the air and land where you want it without too much rolling.
But you don’t always need such a high lofted club for all your chipping shots. For example, when you’re just outside the putting green and the flag is probably 20 yards or less from you, what is the purpose of such a high lofted club?
In such scenarios, a milder club like an 8-iron will do the job phenomenally. You can control the flight of the ball better. Also, you’ll have more control over your rolling distance when compared to a pitching wedge.
A dedicated pitching wedge usually comes in handy when the distance is higher between your ball position and the putting green. Or, when there are obstacles like a bunker or a water body between you and the flag. That’s when you can utilize the higher loft of the club to send the ball over them.
The bottom line is, learn to read the situation. Use the club that you can actually benefit from without sticking to the textbook rules.
The Body Position You Need for a Perfect Chipping Shot
Due to the intricate nature of golf as a sport, it’s important to adjust your body and your playing style with each game type. For example, you’ll need to stand at shoulder width. You also need to go through a full range of backswing and follow through for your shot from the tee or the fairway.
However, when it comes to a short game like pitching or putting, you need to tweak your body movements. In this section, we’re going to look at what each part of your body should be doing during the shot.
First up, we have the stance. It’s the way you set up for the shot. Unlike with your long game, you need to bring your feet closer. The feet should be right inside of your shoulders. A great way to measure the right distance between the feet is to jam the club head in between. That’s a very good width to start with.
Also, at your starting point, you need to put just over half of your body’s weight on your front foot. It’s an ideal weight balance at setup.
The Ball Position
When it comes to ball position, there are two major schools of thought. One group will argue that you should always have the ball in the middle of your foot, right under your sternum for the short game.
The other group will tell you that the ball should either be off your right foot or your left foot, never in the middle.
Both of these techniques have their merits and demerits.
When you have the ball in the middle of your body, you get more stability and more consistency for all of your shots. Your ball flight will look identical no matter what the distance is from the flag. It comes down to the swing speed to determine how far the shot will go.
To master this technique, you need immense control over your wrist. The wrist and the hand should always lead the club and the angle between them should be constant. If you can ensure that you do that, you are free to use this technique.
On the other hand, if you position your ball differently based on the position of your foot, you’ll be able to control your flight more precisely. The rule of thumb is that when you have the ball right on the inside of your front foot, you get more flight and less roll. The opposite is true when the ball is on the inside of your back foot.
This is great for people who can manipulate their wrist angle on command. Based on whether you’re using an 8-iron or a pitching wedge, you can tweak your shots. For shorter distances, you can give the ball more flight to control the roll. And for longer shots, you can hit the ball low and fast.
The swing speed usually remains constant for this kind of shot. If you give it enough time in practice, you’ll become a master of chipping in no time.
How you swing the club on your short game has everything to do with how the shot will pan out. You cannot go for broke on the short game as you do on the long game. You need to move your body with more precision and more control.
In most cases, a full swing looks like an oval if you draw lines against the club head. The club goes to the top of your range of motion and ends with a long follow through after the rotation of the body.
But when it comes to shot games, the swing distance is more or less half. The backswing barely comes up to your waist. The same is true for the follow through. The better you can control your swing, the more accurate your chip shots will be.
Yes, even the grip of your club plays a role in your chipping shot. According to the laws of physics, the more leverage you have, the more power you can generate. It means that one of the most effective ways of taking out the power from your shot is to shorten the leverage.
When it comes to pitching wedges or 8-irons, the club shaft is already quite short. But you can shorten it more by tweaking your grip. You need to hold the grip a little lower than you’re used to with your other clubs. When you do it, you are effectively reducing the leverage. Hence, less more for more accuracy.
The Hands Should Lead the Club
We see many beginners align their hands and the clubs on a straight line. If you’re not familiar with how loft works, it’s a common mistake to make. It may be fine for longer clubs like the drivers or the mid irons, but it becomes a marginal mistake for chipping.
Ideally, the hands should always be in front of the club. This is the only way that you’ll be able to cover as much area of the ball as possible. Why is that? To understand this concept, we need a comparison between longer clubs and shorter clubs.
In general, the longer the club, the less the loft is. The loft is the angle between the club face and the shaft of the club. On drivers, fairway woods, and long irons, the club face is nearly square. It won’t be 100% square ever. But these clubs are designed for distance so you need as much contact with the ball as possible.
The theory is a little different from short clubs. The manufacturers add more loft to give the ball more flight and generate more backspin. But it comes with the cost of proper contact. The adjustment becomes almost intuitive for experienced players. It’s the beginners who struggle the most with it.
So, you need to angle your hand slightly in front of the club so that you deloft the club. It might sound counterintuitive to the loft added to the club. But there are far more complex physics working here. Let’s not go there.
The bottom line is, your hands should always, we mean always lead the club.
The Attack Angle
The attack angle doesn’t matter quite dramatically with longer clubs. It’s somewhat true for putters as well. But it’s not the case for chipping. In chipping, you need to adjust your attack angle dynamically with the situation.
The attack angle or the angle of attack indicates to the fact whether you’re coming down on the ball or not. For rookie players, it’s common to try manually and hit up on the ball to give it more flight. If you’re guilty of this, we don’t blame you. It’s a completely natural reaction to what you see.
But golf is more than what you see with your eyes. Sometimes, you just need to let go of your conventional belief and let physics do the work for you. The downward angle of attack is the best way to do it.
You need to come down on the ball while keeping your hands and wrist in front of the club to maximize the contact patch.
The Club Face
This section applies to any of your shots other than chipping as well. The club face should always be square at impact. You need to set it up in that way.
Many players set up correctly but can’t maintain the angle at impact. It’s partly due to their swing flaws. If you think you’re suffering from this issue, you should definitely check out the post we did on this topic.
Coming back to chipping, if you’re having issues with maintaining your club face angle, you should look at your swing in the video.
The most likely cause in our opinion would be an over the top or square swing path. For a perfect chip, you need a slightly shallow swing to bring the club face to square at impact.
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The Secret Technique to Eliminate Inconsistency
Remember we talked about a secret tip near the beginning of our post? We’re going to reveal it in this section. Apply it only if you’re still struggling with your chip shots after following the steps we’ve discussed so far.
If none of the above methods improved your chipping shot, there might be another variable at play here. And it’s mostly likely your wrists. You might be flicking the club with your wrists without even realizing it. It’s causing you to hit the ball inconsistently every time.
So, we’re going to eliminate the wrists completely from the equation.
For this technique, you’re going to get a notch closer to the ball by making the club head more upright. The standard practice is to lay the club sole flat on the ground. For this practice, you’re going to point the toe of the club on the ground instead.
You’ll get two benefits from the process. The first one is that your club won’t get stuck on the ground because soles are less prone to digging in. The second one is that you’ll get more stability thanks to a closed stance.
Then, you’re going to lock your hands in place with the club. Just remember to lead the club with your hands. The arms should be hanging below your shoulders as they would normally do.
Now, do the swing and see how the shot plays out. If you do everything as we say, you’ll see a significant improvement in your consistency.
We’ve tried our best to include as many aspects of the chipping shots in our guide as possible. If you still struggle with chips shots, it’s maybe time for you to consult an instructor. He/she will be able to diagnose the exact problem and guide you to overcome it.
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Thanks for reading today’s article!
Nick Foy – Golf Instructor