How To Chip A Golf Ball?
Chipping, a key component of any successful golfer’s armory. If you think of the world’s greatest golfers – Woods, Nicholas, Player, Faldo, Mickelson, and Ballesteros one thing links them all and that is a stunning short game.
Chipping can often make or break any golfer round and is one of the game’s hardest skills to master.
This article will break down the basics of chipping whilst exploring how chipping can be improved.
Table of Contents
What is a chip shot?
A chip shot is defined as a ‘short usually low approach shot that lofts the ball to the green and allows it to roll.‘
Chipping usually takes place when the ball is in very close proximity to the green, the sole intention of the shot is for the ball to be hit as close to the hole as possible.
What are the reasons for the chip?
Chipping usually occurs when a player is out of position.
Take a par 4 for example, ideally, you would want to complete a successful drive, before hitting an iron shot into the green for a putt at birdie.
If the approach shot goes awry and misses the green, you will be required to chip the ball onto the green, usually giving yourself a chance to save par.
In some instances, you may be required to chip the ball on a par 5 usually when the green can’t be reached in two shots.
For this, you would want the third shot to be a chip shot to set up a birdie chance.
The ideal result of a successful chip shot would be left with a short putt to complete the hole.
You shouldn’t look to hole a chip shot, of course, this can happen – but the sole objective should be to get the ball to the hole as close as possible.
Chipping can take place in the rough, fringe of the green or a bunker.
There will be scenarios where you will need to hit a chip shot before the ball reaches the green.
If a driver hits an errant drive into an area of thick rough or a hazard, then you may be required to chip the ball out back into the fairway.
This strategy would allow you a chance of potentially saving par.
Which Clubs to use while Chipping?
A golfer should mostly chip with a wedge. A wedge is a club that has an open clubface allowing you the necessary tool to hit the ball with a tremendous amount of loft if required.
Golfers these days have a wide variety of wedges they can use. You could choose a wedge with 48, 52, 56, 58, and 60 degrees of loft with each club helping in certain scenarios.
For example, if you find yourself just shy of the green with plenty of green to work with, you should be able to perform a fairly standard low-flighted chip shot that would run on the green.
In this scenario, you would most likely select the 48-degree wedge option.
Another instance might be when you need to hit a chip shot over a bunker that is positioned before the green – here a 58-degree wedge would be selected as this would allow you the opportunity to hit the ball high in the hope it would avoid the hazard and land safely on the green.
There could be occasions where you barely want to get the ball in the air and run the ball across the green for a long way.
In this scenario, you could choose to chip with a low lofted iron such as a 5 iron or even choose to bump the ball with a driver or 3 wood.
Things to Keep in Mind while Chipping?
As mentioned above, the primary aim of a chip should be to ensure that you land the ball as close to the hole as possible.
Usually, a chip shot will take place when you have strayed out of position. A chip shot will be close to the green so a golfer has to factor in several things.
To begin with, you will need to study the green ahead of them and decide where they want to pitch the ball.
The hole could be located near a slope or contour.
Due to the nature of a chip shot the ball flight of the shot will be low and when the ball lands it will roll, therefore you need to judge how hard you hit the ball so that when the ball lands it doesn’t roll too far beyond the pin.
You need to pick the spots on the green to allow you the easiest putt possible.
If you would want to try and leave a putt that is flat or uphill, you should try and chip the ball into a position that would allow you to do this.
Depending on where the ball lies and what is in front of you, you will need to evaluate what sort of chip shot you need to perform.
If for example, the distance between you and the hole isn’t too great, you might not have the platform to perform a regular chip shot.
Instead, you might want to perform a ‘flop’ shot. A flop shot is where the ball is launched high into the air with the hope it lands softly and will not run on.
How to Control the Distance while chipping?
When we learn to play golf, attention is often given to driving, iron play, and putting with chipping often being overlooked.
One area where we struggle when learning to the chip is mastering distance control.
You can lose control when chipping by not having consistent swing speeds. Swing too fast and often the chip shot can overrun, swing too slow and the shot could be duffed and not get anywhere near its intended target.
To improve distance control, you should look to make a solid, consistent ball connection. To enhance this skill, before taking a shot, set the hands a few inches ahead of the ball at setup.
Take 20 practice swings trying to make the club thump the ground each time. After the practice swings add in a golf ball and hopefully there will be a more solid contact learned.
What set up required to perform a successful chip shot?
Chipping requires a different setup to that of a drive or iron shot.
Whereas for full golf shot the feet will often be shoulder-width apart, for a chip shot you would want to close your stance and bring your feet closer together.
As the main aim of the chip shot is to keep the ball flight low, putting the feet together will stop you from over-rotating onto your back foot and hitting the golf ball into the air.
To have a successful short game you must have good posture. The following posture tips should be adopted when attempting a chip shot.
– Stand in good posture by depressing your shoulders down and back.
– Tilt forward together from the hips, keeping your spine aligned.
– Allow the hips to drop back.
– Continue leaning forward until you tilt forward enough to see the ball.
Another main difference between a regular golf shot and a chip shot is where you place the ball within your stance.
Whereas for a regular shot the ball will be placed in the middle of a stance, for a chip shot the ball should be positioned towards the back foot if you seek to hit the ball low, or towards the front foot if you want to achieve a higher trajectory.
A key element to hitting a successful chip is ensuring that your hands are set ahead of the ball.
This allows you better control of the shot as the wrists should remain locked avoiding a scooping motion that will lift the ball needlessly into the air.
With the hands set and locked in front of the ball, this should allow for a crisp, clean, connection and more consistent chips.
How to practice a chip?
There are numerous drills that you can perform to sharpen up your chipping and short game.
Some highlighted drills include the hula hoop drill. This is a drill where a player should aim to get the golf ball within a hula hoop or a similarly sized area. To perform this drill
- Take a hula hoop or create a similar-sized shape with string or other materials
- Set golf balls in 5-yard intervals away from the hoop. The drill would dictate that you can place 8 balls ranging from 5-40 yards.
- To start the drill, start with the ball closest to the hoop, chip it, and have it land within the hoop.
- For each successful chip move to the next ball further from the hoop. If you miss one restart from the beginning.
Another drill that could be done from within the comfort of a player’s home is a coin drill.
Simply place down three coins approx 10 yards away and try to hit the coin sending them in the air. This should allow the golfer to practice a consistent swing with the hands forward and feet together.
We will leave you with a quote by former champion golfer Ernie Els when asked to describe the importance of a short game – he said;
Brushing up on your short game at the practice area is fine and good, but taking it with you to the golf course – when your score is really on the line – is another story.
To see your scores get lower and your game improves – keep practicing your chipping, giving it the time it deserves.
We hope you have found this “how to chip a golf ball” article useful and we hope that it can help you take your chipping game to a new level.