The chip shot is a standard in golf. When you are somewhere between 20 and 2 feet from the green, too far to putt and too short to pitch, the golf stroke you want to make is a chip shot.
There are lots of different ideas about how to best chip your golf ball onto the green. Some instructors insist that you use the same swing but different clubs depending on the distance you want the ball to roll to the hole. Others only use one club, (often the 8 or 9 iron) and change their swing depending on the distance needed to get the job done. I’ve been taught both methods and am still experimenting with which chip method suits my style of play.
One thing I do know is that learning to chip well is critical to lowering your score and your handicap. It may take you three hits to get to the green on a par 5, but if you can chip in, you can birdie the hole! Chunk your chip, top the ball, skull it, miss it altogether, and the strokes will just keep piling up.
With different methods taught, you will have to find the one that works best for your game. No matter your method, no matter which club you choose to use, the one thing you want to do is hit down on the ball. Those fat chips (the chunks) that go nowhere or those thin skullers that shoot across the green, most likely landing in the sand bunker on the opposite side, are all caused because you are trying to get under the ball and lift it up, or you hit the ground first and then hit the ball, sending it nowhere.
How do you hit a good chip shot?
The first key element is acceleration. As you hit down and through the ball you don’t want to slow down. Fear of hitting the ball too hard and sending the ball flying keeps most golfers from accelerating or hitting through the ball. The second key element is to keep your back swing short. No full swing required here. Swing back to waist high is more than enough for a good chip shot.
Select a target on the green where you want your ball to bounce and then roll to the hole. If you use the multi-club method you will need to practice using all your irons, and discover the difference the same swing will send the ball, whether you use your 5 iron or your 9 iron. If you use the swing method, select your chipping club (8 or 9) and practice changing your swing to achieve the distance you need the ball to roll.
Here’s a quick summary:
- narrow stance
- ball back in your stance
- choke down a bit on the club
- set your hands ahead of the ball
- flex your knees and shift your weight to your forward foot
- pick out your target
- short back swing
- hit down on the ball
- don’t slow down as you follow through
- watch the ball roll into the hole!
Check out this video to see how it’s done and particularly watch the back swing and how the ball pops up, bounces and then takes a long roll to the hole.
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Which method do you use when chipping?