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Whether you miss the green short, long, left or right, your best option will probably 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. This is why 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 this article, 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.
So, what 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 you use?
Because the arc 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
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, and it’s the only method that I would recommend for golfers learning how to chip.
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.
Watch this video of Phil Mickelson demonstrating the technique (also discussed in my pitching wedge article):
Best Clubs For 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.
Say 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?
Any quality set of irons will more than suffice for getting your chipping game in order. Check out the product reviews page for information and recommendations.
Because you can practice your chipping for free, it’s easy to experiment and find a technique that works for you. When you do find something that works, it’s probably going to be some form of the hinge-and-hold method.
But if you want more than just general tips and guidance for hitting a chip shot, listen up. This is going to get you hitting it “inside the leather” and getting up and down around the green just about every time:
Are you struggling with chip shots, or are you just starting out with them? Feel free to share your story and experiences in the comments below.