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How to Hit Short Chip Shots: Essential Guide & Techniques

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short chip shots

Most golfers know mastering the short game can make or break a round. Amateur golfers and even some players on the PGA tour can struggle with short game shots. You don’t see it very often, but there are videos out there of pros blading a chip across the green with the leading edge of the club.

One essential skill in any golfer’s arsenal is knowing how to hit short chip shots. These shots help you get the golf ball closer to the hole when you’re just off the green.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to perfect your chip shot technique and give you the confidence to tackle tricky situations on the golf course.

Understanding Short Chip Shots

A short chip shot is a low-trajectory shot that rolls more than it flies. It’s typically used when you put the ball close to the green and you need to get it over a small obstacle, like the fringe or a bunker. The goal of a chip shot is that the ball lands on the green and then rolls toward the hole.

Key Elements of a Successful Chip Shot

  1. Club Selection: Choose the right club for the shot, usually a sand wedge, pitching wedge, or gap wedge.
  2. Ball Position: Place the ball slightly back in your stance, typically closer to your back foot.
  3. Weight Distribution: Keep most of your weight on your front foot.
  4. Hands Forward: Position your hands ahead of the ball at the address.
  5. Swing: Use a simple chipping stroke with minimal wrist hinge and lower body movement. This is usually less than a full swing.

Perfecting Your Stance and Grip

Perfecting your stance and grip is essential for consistent and accurate chip and pitch shots. To establish the ideal stance, stand with your feet close together and slightly open to the target line, which promotes better contact and control.

Position the ball slightly back in your stance, near your back foot, to facilitate a downward strike on the ball. As for weight distribution, lean towards your front foot, allocating about 70-80% of your weight to the lead foot. This helps you maintain stability and ensures solid contact. 

Now, let’s address the grip. First, hold the golf club with a light grip pressure, similar to holding a tube of toothpaste without squeezing it out. This relaxed grip allows for better feel and control during the shot. 

Finally, minimize wrist hinge during the chipping stroke to maintain control and consistency and improve contact with the ball. 

Mastering the Chip Shot Swing

Backswing Basics

  • Swing Path: Keep the club on a slightly inside path during the backswing, allowing for a more shallow angle of attack.
  • Upper Body Rotation: Rotate your upper body slightly to keep the club on the correct path.

The Impact Zone

  • Hands Ahead: Keep your hands ahead of the club head through impact for a downward strike on the ball.
  • Weight Shift: Maintain weight distribution towards your front foot during impact to ensure a solid strike.

Follow-Through Fundamentals

  • Clubhead Control: Keep the clubhead low and controlled during the follow-through to maintain a low trajectory and more roll.
  • Body Rotation: Finish with your body facing the target, allowing your right arm and shoulder to rotate through the shot.
short chip shots

Essential Short Chip Shot Drills

  • Clock Face Drill

The Clock Face Drill is an excellent exercise to work on distance control and accuracy. Place golf balls at various distances from the hole to set up this drill, representing each “hour” on an imaginary clock face. Start by hitting chip shots from the closest hour, focusing on the trajectory, landing spot, and rollout. 

As you progress to longer distances, pay close attention to the force you apply to your swing to achieve the desired outcome. Practicing this drill will help you better understand how to control the distance and roll of your chip shots, enabling you to adjust your swing based on the situation on the course.

  • Up-and-Down Challenge

The Up-and-Down Challenge is a fantastic way to simulate real on-course scenarios and develop your short game under pressure. To start, pick a challenging spot near the green, preferably with various obstacles, such as rough, bunkers, or slopes. 

Your goal is to get the ball up and down in two shots or fewer, meaning you’ll need to chip the ball onto the green and then make the putt. This drill helps you build the confidence and skill to execute difficult chip shots during a round. By practicing this challenge, you’ll learn to approach tricky situations strategically and enhance your overall short game.

  • Target Practice

Target practice is a valuable drill for honing your chipping accuracy and consistency. Set up alignment rods, towels, or other targets on the green to create specific landing zones. You can also use the hole itself as a target.

The objective is to hit a chip shot with enough precision to land and stop within the designated target area. Begin by chipping from a comfortable distance, gradually increasing the difficulty as you become more proficient. 

This drill encourages you to focus on the landing spot and visualize the ball’s trajectory, ultimately improving your ability to control the ball’s flight and roll. In addition, as you practice target practice, you’ll develop a greater sense of touch and become more adept at executing precise chip shots on the course.

Troubleshooting Common Chip Shot Issues

  • Fat Shot: If you’re hitting behind the ball, keep your weight forward and hands ahead of the ball at impact.
  • Thin Shot: If you’re hitting the ball too low or “skulling” it, ensure your weight distribution remains consistent and avoid lifting your upper body during the swing.
  • Inconsistent Contact: Focus on maintaining a stable lower body and minimize wrist movement during the chipping stroke for more consistent contact.

Adapting to Different Situations

  1. Uphill Chip Shots

Club Selection: Choose a club with more loft to help get the ball into the air more efficiently.

Ball Position: Move the ball slightly forward in your stance to promote a higher trajectory, but not too much to avoid generating a pitch shot.

Swing: Maintain a smooth, controlled swing, allowing the club’s loft to do the work.

  1. Downhill Chip Shots

Club Selection: Opt for a club with less loft to keep the ball low and promote more roll.

Ball Position: Position the ball further back in your stance to help control the trajectory.

Swing: Use a shorter, more controlled chipping stroke to avoid hitting the ball too hard.

Read our comprehensive post on downhill chipping for even more tips

  1. Chipping from Rough or Tight Lies

Club Selection: For shots from the rough, choose a club with more bounce to prevent the club from getting caught in the grass. For a tight lie, use a club with less bounce for better contact. Make sure you check the lie of the ball carefully before deciding which club to use.

Swing: Be aggressive through impact, accelerating the clubhead to avoid decelerating and hitting the shot too far.

Putting it All Together: A Practice Routine

Warming Up

Start by chipping a few balls to get a feel for the green’s speed and the club you’ll use.

Structured Practice Sessions

  • Chipping Drills: Work on specific skills, such as distance control, trajectory, and spin.
  • Skill Reinforcement: Practice hitting various chip shots to different targets, simulating on-course situations.
  • Golf game: make a game out of your drills and skill reinforcements. How many times in a row can you get a chip shot within 5 yards of the flag? How many times in a row can you land the ball in the landing zone you’ve chosen?

Simulating On-Course Scenarios

Create a variety of short game scenarios around the practice green, mimicking the types of chip shots you’ll encounter on the course. Take plenty of practice swings before hitting your shot.

An Easy Chipping Technique

An easy chipping technique in golf is the “bump and run” shot. This technique involves using a low-lofted club, such as a 7 or 8 iron, to hit the ball low and with minimal spin. The idea is to land the ball on the putting surface and let it roll towards the hole like a putt. It’s a great technique to use when you have plenty of green to work with and don’t need to carry the ball over any obstacles.

Why do I leave my chip shots short?

There are several reasons why you might leave your chip shots short:

Poor technique: If your technique is incorrect, it can affect the distance and accuracy of your chip shots. For example, if you are decelerating through the ball or not using enough wrist hinge, you may not generate enough power to get the ball to the target.

Lack of practice: Chipping is a skill that requires practice to master. If you haven’t spent enough time practicing your chipping, you may struggle with distance control.

Wrong club selection: Choosing the wrong club can also affect the distance of your chip shots. If you are using a club with too much loft or not enough loft, it can affect the trajectory and distance of the shot.

Poor judgment of distance: Misjudging the distance to the target can also cause you to leave your chip shots short. It’s important to take the time to assess the distance and choose the right club for the shot.

Nervousness or tension: Finally, nervousness or tension can also cause you to leave your chip shots short. If you are feeling anxious or tense, it can affect your swing and cause you to decelerate through the ball.

How do you hit a short high chip shot?

To hit a short high chip shot or flop shot, you can follow these steps:

Choose the right club: For a short high chip shot, you’ll want to use a club with a higher loft, such as a sand wedge or lob wedge.

Open the club face: Open the club face slightly to increase the loft of the club and create more height on the shot.

Position the ball: Place the ball slightly forward in your stance, closer to your front foot, to encourage a higher ball flight.

Use a shorter backswing: Take a shorter backswing than you would for a longer chip shot to control the distance and trajectory of the shot.

Use a steep angle of attack: To create more height on the shot, use a steep angle of attack by striking down on the ball and taking a divot after impact.

Follow through: Follow through with your swing to ensure a clean contact with the ball and to control the distance and trajectory of the shot.

See our definitive guide on how to hit a 60 degree wedge

How do you hit a short chip shot around the green?

Here are some tips on how to hit a short chip shot around the green:

Choose the right club: Select a club with a low loft, such as a pitching wedge or gap wedge, for a short chip shot.

Set up for the shot: Position the ball slightly back in your stance, closer to your back foot, and lean your weight slightly towards your front foot.

Keep your hands forward: Keep your hands ahead of the ball at address and maintain this position throughout the shot.

Take a short backswing: Take a short backswing, keeping your wrists firm, and your arms and body connected.

Use a slight wrist hinge: Use a slight wrist hinge on the backswing to create a little bit of loft on the clubface.

Use a descending blow: On the downswing, use a descending blow to strike the ball first and then take a small divot after impact.

Follow through: Follow through with your swing to ensure a clean contact with the ball and to control the distance and trajectory of the shot.

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

Conclusion

Mastering short chip shots takes time, patience, and practice. You’ll soon see improvements in your short game by focusing on the fundamentals, incorporating drills into your practice routine, and continuously refining your technique. Remember, the key to success is consistency, so keep practicing and watch your scores drop. Happy chipping!

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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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