How To Chip The Golf Ball
Whether you miss the green short, long, left or right, chances are your best option will be to chip the ball onto the green.
The chip shot is one of the most common shots that any golfer will face out on the course; for that reason, it’s very important to have a solid technique ingrained that you can use to reliably get the ball close to the hole and lower your scores.
In addition to covering chipping techniques (well, actually, the chipping technique that I recommend), I will go over the definition of the chip shot, its applications and what clubs to use in different situations.
What exactly is a chip shot?
The chip is a short-game shot typically used off the green from around 40 yards and in. In almost all cases, it involves striking the ball onto the green with a very short swing and letting the ball roll towards the hole. Typical situations on the golf course that would call for a chip shot are:
- you’re in the greenside rough and have at least some green to work with
- you’re on the fringe and it’s impractical to putt (too far or severe contours between you and the hole)
- you’re in the fairway just short of the green or in a closely-mown area near the green
What technique should I use?
Because the swing of a chip shot is so short, foot position and other postural elements aren’t as important — in other words, you can keep your feet closer together or farther apart, stand closer to the ball or farther from the ball, and still be an effective chipper. You should do what feels comfortable and allows you to be consistent while still employing a sound technique.
The basic idea for chipping is to take the club back, usually no more than chest height, and deliver it into the ball at a consistent loft. Arguably the best way to help you achieve this is by employing the hinge-and-hold method.
The hinge-and-hold method (a term coined by pro golfer Phil Mickelson) consists of hinging your wrists in the backswing and keeping that hinge through the downswing and into the ball. I would venture to say that every great chipper in the game of golf uses this technique in one form or another.
The reason this method is so effective is that, when done correctly, it almost ensures that you deliver the clubface to the ball at a consistent loft (and hence trajectory). Releasing the club just before you hit the ball will change the effective loft of the club at impact; this will not only result in a loft that’s inconsistent at impact, but also make bladed shots very likely.
When hinging and holding, be sure to accelerate through the ball so that the clubhead doesn’t catch up to your hands. Focus on making solid ball-first contact like you would with any full iron shot. Practice and be patient.
This is the only method that I would recommend for golfers learning how to chip. I very much recommend watching the embedded video of Phil Mickelson demonstrating the technique in my pitching wedge article here.
What club should I use to hit chip shots?
Short irons and wedges (9-iron, pitching wedge, gap wedge etc.) are most commonly used to hit chip shots because they offer an ideal balance between trajectory and rollout. Naturally, shorter irons will produce a chip shot with a higher trajectory and less rollout. A pitching wedge is a good all-purpose choice for beginners and amateurs — eventually once you develop feel and skill you can expand into other clubs. It is not unheard of for golfers to use woods and hybrids off the green for a bump-and-run in certain situations.
As an example: if you’re just off of the green 70 feet from the pin with plenty of green to work with, one viable option would be to use a stronger lofted iron to achieve a lower trajectory and more rollout. Alternatively, you could use a wedge with more loft and just make a fuller swing to carry the ball farther. Which approach to take is up to the individual golfer’s judgement.
What equipment is best for the job?