Tell me if this sounds familiar. You hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway and nice approach shot just off the edge of the green. You then proceed to mishit the chip and leave yourself a 10 footer for par that you miss. Meanwhile your buddy hits it in the trees off the tee, scrapes his second shot out, and then gets up and down from 40 yards for par beating you on the hole. Makes you want to pull your hair out right? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. With a few simple adjustments you can start hitting more solid chip shots that end up closer to the hole and give you a better chance to save par. Here are 3 easy ways to improve your chip shots:
Forward at Setup
To hit a chip shot solid you need to hit the golf ball, then the ground. In order to achieve this you must strike the ball at or before the bottom of the swing. Getting your weight and golf club leaning slightly forward at the setup are excellent ways to improve contact. At the setup feel 60% of your weight on the forward foot. It will feel as though back shoulder is higher than your front shoulder. This sets your swing into a steeper position allowing for a solid hit. Now the key is to keep the weight there during the swing. Next get the shaft leaning slightly toward the target. A good reference point is to have the grip of the club even with the middle of your forward thigh. This along with leaning forward add just enough steepness to allow for a solid hit on the golf ball.
Balance and Tempo
If you watch a good chipper you’ll see that their backswing and follow through are similar sizes. You see a lot of golfers who struggle with chipping making big backswings with little follow through or the opposite, making a small backswing and over accelerating into the ball. A balanced chip shot swing leads to good tempo and makes it easier to deliver the clubface solidly on the back of the ball. It also reduces the desire to “hit” the ball when chipping. Good chippers make a smooth balanced swing and let the ball get in the way. Make some practice strokes with your chipping club and feel the club moving back and forth in nice balanced and smooth motion. Do this without a ball until you get the feeling then add the golf ball. The goal with the ball is the maintain that same balance and tempo. This will lead to solid shots and better distance control.
Better Cub Selection
Many golfers struggle to pick the correct club for chip shots. They use too much loft which makes it tougher to make solid contact, brings backspin into play, and makes judging the roll difficult. Or they use too little loft which makes it difficult to land the ball on the green and easy to hit the shot too hard. The goal of a chip shot should be to land the ball just on the green and let it roll to the hole. Rolling a ball provides better distance control than carrying it in the air. The ball should be landed on the green though as it provides the best surface and most consistent bounce. Focus your club selection on the PW, 9, and 8 irons (keep the sand and lob wedges in the bag for shots that require more loft to land the shot on the edge of the green). Using a combination of these 3 clubs for chipping will provide a good balance of height and roll. It will also reduce your choices simplifying the club selection process. So stop throwing away shots around the green. Use the 3 chipping tips the next time you practice or play and you’ll see more up and downs and less frustration with your chip shots.