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How to Hit Chip Shots: Your Golf Chipping Guide

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how to hit chip shots

Imagine standing just off the green, facing a make-or-break moment in your golf round. You need to get up and down in two shots to win the hole or save par. Here’s where knowing how to hit chip shots and mastering the art of chip shots can make all the difference in your game. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of chip shots, exploring techniques, common mistakes, and practice strategies to help you hit chip shots like a pro and elevate your short game.

Fundamentals of Chip Shots

Chip shots are short game shots that get the golf ball airborne briefly before it lands on the putting surface, rolling most of its distance to the hole. They’re typically played within 30 yards of the green and are essential for situations where a full golf swing isn’t required or when the ball needs to travel over an obstacle.

When to Use Chip Shots

Chip shots come in handy when:

  • You’re near the green but not on the putting surface
  • You need to navigate over the short rough, fringe, or a small hazard
  • You want a low trajectory shot that rolls more than it flies

Proper Technique for Chip Shots

Mastering the proper technique for chip shots is as essential as the putting stroke to improving your short game and lowering your scores. In this section, we’ll break down the various elements of the chip shot technique into body positioning, grip, club selection, and swing mechanics. By understanding and practicing each aspect, you’ll be on your way to becoming a short-game wizard.

  1. Body Positioning

A solid and stable body position is the first lesson on your journey to hitting a chip shot. Here’s how to set up your stance and body for optimal results:

  • Feet and stance: Stand close to the ball with your feet narrower than shoulder-width apart. This narrow stance promotes stability and control throughout the swing.
  • Ball position: Position the ball slightly forward in your stance, closer to your lead foot. This allows for a descending blow on the ball, crucial for clean contact and consistent results.
  • Weight distribution: Distribute approximately 60-70% of your weight on your front foot. This forward weight distribution encourages a downward strike and helps prevent hitting behind the ball. Allowing your weight to remain on your back foot will move your swing low point back and cause chunks and fat shots.
  1. Grip and Club Selection

Your grip and club selection play a significant role in the success of your chip shots. Let’s explore how to choose the right club and grip it correctly:

  • Grip pressure: Hold the golf club lightly, maintaining a relaxed and soft grip throughout the swing. This promotes a better feel and touches around the greens.
  • Grip type: Use a slightly weaker grip than your full swing grip, with the “V” formed by your thumb and index finger pointing toward your lead shoulder. This helps maintain a square club face throughout the swing.
  • Choosing the right club: Experiment with different clubs to find the best one for each situation. A sand wedge or lob wedge is ideal for higher lofted shots, while a pitching/gap wedge or even a 9-iron is best for lower trajectory shots with more roll.
  1. Swing Mechanics

Developing a solid and consistent swing is the final piece of the chip shot puzzle. Focus on these fundamental swing mechanics to perfect your chip shots:

  • Backswing: Keep your arms and club close to your body while turning your upper body slightly. Your backswing should be short and controlled, with minimal wrist hinge. This ensures a smooth and consistent transition into the downswing.
  • Downswing: As you begin your downswing, shift your weight toward your front foot, maintaining the forward shaft lean. Lead with your hands and let the clubhead naturally follow. Focus on making a descending strike on the ball, brushing the grass beneath it.
  • Follow-through: A proper follow-through is as vital as the backswing and downswing. Keep your follow-through smooth, controlled, and relatively short. Your club face should stay low to the ground and continue along the target line.
how to hit chip shots

Common Chip Shot Mistakes and How to Fix Them

  1. Hitting the Ball Too Thin or Too Fat

This occurs when you strike the ball too low, causing it to either fly too far (thin) or hit the ground before the ball (fat). To fix this, focus on ball position and proper weight distribution throughout the swing.

  1. Struggling With Distance Control

Gaining the correct distance control on chip shots is vital. Practice varying the length of your backswing to control the shot’s distance, and experiment with different clubs to find the right combination for your game.

  1. Inconsistent Contact

If you need more consistent contact, make sure you’re maintaining proper body rotation and not just using your arms. Also, ensure you’re not “flipping” your wrists during the downswing, which can cause inconsistent strikes and even the dreaded shank.

Tips for Practicing and Improving Chip Shots

Developing a solid chip shot technique takes time and practice. To help you improve and elevate your short game, we’ve compiled an extensive list of practice strategies, drills, and training aids that you can use to refine your skills and gain the confidence you need on the golf course.

  1. Drills for Better Technique
  • Ladder Drill: Set targets at different distances on the practice green, creating a “ladder” of distances. Work on hitting each mark in sequence, focusing on distance control and consistency. Gradually increase the difficulty by reducing the space between targets or introducing obstacles.
  • Towel Drill: Place a towel a few feet before you and try chipping the ball over it. This drill encourages a clean, crisp contact and helps develop the proper trajectory for chip shots.
  • One-handed Chipping: Practice chipping only with your lead hand to improve your feel for the club and control during the swing. This drill helps isolate and strengthen the lead arm and promotes a better connection to the club.
  • Coin Drill: Place a coin on the ground and practice chipping balls off the coin. This drill improves your focus on making solid contact with the ball and promotes precision in your chip shots.
  • Chipping to a Frisbee: Place a Frisbee on the green and chip balls onto it. The frisbee provides a visual target that encourages proper distance control and accuracy.
  • Training Aids and Chipping Nets: Portable chipping nets are a great way to practice accuracy and consistency in chip shots. Set up the net at varying distances and work on landing the ball in the net consistently.
  • Golf Swing Analyzers: These devices provide real-time feedback on your swing, allowing you to fine-tune your chipping technique. By analyzing key metrics such as clubhead speed, angle of attack, and swing path, you can make informed adjustments and improve your chip shots.
  • Alignment Rods: Use alignment rods to help establish proper stance, ball position, and alignment. This will help you create a consistent setup crucial for successful chip shots.
  • Putting Arc: A putting arc training aid can be used to practice the proper chipping swing path. By following the arc with your clubhead, you’ll develop a more consistent and effective swing. While chip shots are generally played from proximity to the green, a pitch shot requires a slightly longer swing and more loft to cover greater distances. Pitch shots require a body rotation to land softly on the putting surface.
how to hit chip shots
  1. Practice Strategies
  • Visualizing Shots: Before each practice shot, visualize the trajectory and roll you want to achieve. This mental rehearsal helps improve your feel and touch around the greens.
  • Changing Lies and Targets: Mix up your practice by chipping from different lies (fairway, rough, uphill, downhill) and aiming at various targets. This drill simulates actual golf course conditions and prepares you for any situation on the course.
  • Incorporating Pressure Situations: Add some pressure to your practice by challenging yourself or a friend to a chipping competition. This makes training more enjoyable and helps you develop the mental toughness needed for high-pressure shots during a round.
  • Using a Pre-Shot Routine: Develop a consistent pre-shot routine and use it during practice. This helps establish a mental and physical rhythm, leading to more consistent chip shots.
  • Tracking Progress: Keep a log of your practice sessions, noting improvements, areas for growth, and specific drills that have been effective. Logging will help you stay motivated and track your progress over time.

Adapting Chip Shots for Different Course Conditions

  • Playing on Fast Greens

On fast greens, opt for a club with less loft and play the ball further back in your stance to produce a low trajectory shot with more roll. Again, focus on keeping your wrists firm and maintaining a smooth tempo.

  • Chipping from Rough or Thick Grass

When chipping from rough, use a higher lofted club like a lob wedge, and hinge your wrists slightly more during the backswing to create a steeper angle of attack. This helps you cut through the grass and create more spin on the ball.

  • Dealing with Uneven Lies

Uneven lies can make chipping more challenging. Adjust your stance and ball position to accommodate the lie, and focus on maintaining good balance throughout the swing.

Bonus Tip – For the most comprehensive guide on chipping, including flop shots, bump and runs, and bunker shots, see our golf chipping page and chip shot meaning page.

Conclusion

Mastering the art of chip shots can significantly improve your short-game shot and, ultimately, lower your scores on the golf course. By focusing on proper technique, learning from common mistakes, and incorporating effective practice strategies, you’ll soon be hitting chip shots like a pro. 

Remember, the key to success in golf is practice, so head to your local practice green and start working on your chip shots today. With dedication and persistence, you’ll soon see the benefits of the course and, most importantly, have more fun playing the game you love.

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AUTHOR

Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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