Have you ever wondered what separates the professional golfers from the amateurs? Chipping. The short game of a pro golfer is something to admire as they can control their wedges to chip each shot close to the hole for easier putts. Chipping can make or break a golf round.
You might have guessed Driving which is also true. Pro golfers can hit long drives, much longer than the average player.
But what happens if you hit every fairway and yet still miss every green? Does the driver really end up mattering if you still face chip shots on each hole from missing the green?
Consider the golfer who doesn’t hit many fairways but still manages to hit onto the green from the rough.
While you can spend hours on the driving range, we would prefer you shift focus to a 80/20 schedule where you spend 80% of your time practicing short game like putting and chipping and 20% of your time practicing your driver.
Here is our guide on our best chipping tips to help you become better at chipping a golf ball. Learn how to control your wedges and nestle the ball closer to the hole to reduce stress on your putting.
Golf Chipping Tips
1. Analyze Your Lie
The very first step to hitting a good chip shot is analyzing your lie. This allows you to decide on what type of chip shot you’ll hit onto the green.
If the ball is sitting down deep in the rough then you’re going to anticipate needing a high lofted wedge like your 60 degree to pop it out with lots of backspin to help it stop on the green.
Your lie will give you good insight on the type of shot to use and that’s where you’ll need to also analyze the green.
2. Analyze the Green
The next step to improving your chipping is taking time to analyze the green. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Where is the flag?
- How much green is there between you and the flag to roll the golf ball?
- If the ball goes long is there a bunker or any hazards?
- Do you have any bunkers or hazards you have to chip over to get onto the green?
If there is no trouble nearby and lots of green between the hole and your ball, then you should practice a low trajectory running chip shot. When there is trouble to go over or not much green, then higher lofted flop shots are likely the shot choice to go with.
Analyze the green and analyze your lie and decide on which chip shot works best for the least amount of risk to help you save par.
3. Choose the Right Club
Find the wedge that works best for you. Decide if you prefer to hit low, runner style chips or higher, arcing flop shot style chips.
The amount of ball flight in the air (carry distance) before landing versus the amount of roll after landing will take time to feel out and see what is more comfortable.
If you feel more comfortable with shorter back swings and less power to get more control over the golf ball, try using a lower lofted club like a 9 iron. You’ll chip the ball only a few feet and watch it roll most of the way to the hole.
If you feel better swinging with more power to flight the ball higher into the air, carry farther, and have less roll, then use a higher lofted wedge like a 58 degree or 60 degree wedge.
4. Take Practice Strokes
When setting up to your chip shot, get prepared by taking some practice strokes close to your ball.
This gives you a chance to feel what the shot will be like, how thick the rough is, or how to make crisp contact with dirt if your ball is sitting on a dirt patch.
The feedback you get from your chipping practice strokes will be important to technique when you set up to the real shot.
5. Setup Closer to the Ball
On a normal golf shot, you’d take a standard distance away from the golf ball so the sole of the club rests flat on the ground. But with a chip shot, we want to get closer to the golf ball in our set up stance.
This will require you to lift the club shaft up more vertically, raising the heel of the club off the ground. It results in the club being able to cut through the grass a bit better than normal as it lowers the profile of the club and pushes the toe of the club down more.
It also helps the club face stay facing the target better during the chipping motion, by helping you maintain a straighter takeaway backwards, as opposed to pulling the club inwards on an arcing motion.
When you stand farther away from the ball, the club takes a more arcing path away from the ball which causes the face of the club to point away from the target.
6. Choke Down
Choking down shortens the length of the club, bringing your hands closer towards the ground and this gives golfers better feel and control. If you are facing a pressure chip, choke down to add some confidence and control over the shot.
7. Keep the Shoulders Level
When chipping, you want your shoulder plane to be more level. To achieve this, we need our weight more forward in our stance to help promote that back shoulder staying level with our front shoulder.
The fault many golfers make is dipping that back shoulder towards the ground in the chipping motion and this usually results from having your body weight shifted onto your back leg. Keep those shoulders level with the ground.
8. Narrow the Stance
Start by positioning the feet closer together. We don’t need a wide base to support a powerful swing when chipping.
Your stance should still give you balance, however, so don’t make it to narrow where the chipping motion makes you feel like you’re going to tip over.
9. Center the Golf Ball
The ball position should be center of your stance for most chip shots. This means the ball will be near the center line between your two feet.
10. When to Play the Ball Back in Your Stance
If you’d like to hit a lower flighted chip shot or need to get more roll on the green, you can move the ball back further in your stance to promote a crisp strike and a chip that comes out lower trajectory onto the green with less backspin to stop it.
11. Don’t Set the Hands Too Far Forward of the Ball
When setting up for a chip shot, the hands should be slightly ahead of the golf ball, creating a very subtle forward leaning shaft. To a spectator, the club shaft may still look vertical to the ground.
You’ll get in trouble when you start leaning the shaft forward excessively in your set up. This shuts down the face angle of the club and lowers the flight of the ball as well as promotes digging of the club face on the down swing.
12. Keep More Weight on the Front Leg
In a normal golf swing, your body weight shifts back on the back swing and then as your fire your hips your weight shifts forward to help you power your swing. A lot of golfers can get their weight stuck behind the shot, causing a shank or hook/slice.
With chipping you don’t need much power and it’s all generated with your arms swinging the club. Therefore, you can start with your weight forward to help reduce mishits.
13. Lead with the Hands
During a chipping stroke, you want your hands to lead the club face. The only way this occurs is by creating some forward shaft lean so that the top of the club (grip) is ahead of the bottom of the club (club face).
Forward shaft lean helps promote a descending blow on the golf ball to help avoid chunks and releasing the club too early, known as casting. You’ll find your chip shot ball striking to be much smoother and controllable.
13. Hinge the Trail Hand on Takeaway
Unlike a putting stroke, where the hands stay still and you use your shoulders and arms to move the club, the chipping motion needs to use the hands some. Your arms control the movement of the club during the swing but you need to allow some motion in the hands.
Your hands should slightly hinge on the takeaway to help pick the club up out of the grass. This also helps create loft on the shot so the ball can pop up into the air.
14. Hold the Hinge Chip Shot
Hold that hinge as you following through and strike the ball. The amount of hinge isn’t to be overdone, however. See our next point below.
Read Next: Best Golf Chipping Drills
15. Don’t Get Too Handsy on the Down Swing
We want to use our hands but we don’t want to flip the club backwards and forwards during the chipping motion. This is known as “scooping” which can also be called “scooping the wrists”.
Instead, imagine the butt of the club pointing at your belt during set up and imagine a laser coming out of the butt of the club. As we turn back and turn through the chip shot, the laser should stay pointing towards your belt buckle.
If you start flipping the hands forwards and backwards, the butt will point behind you and in front of you instead of pointing towards the belt buckle.
16. If It’s a Short Chip Shot, Try to Chip In
If you face a chip shot where the hole isn’t very far away from you, then try to chip it in! This is a chance to save a stroke on your scorecard. The odds of chipping in these close distance shots are higher than you think.
17. Choose Where You Want to Putt From
When analyzing a chip shot, consider the path the ball will take once it lands on the green.
How does the green break? Where does the green slope upwards and downwards? What will the ball do as it rolls towards the hole, impacting where it may come to rest for your next putt?
Pick out a spot where you want to putt from based on the green slope and work backwards to decide how you can chip the golf ball to end up in this ideal putting spot.
If you hate downhill putts, find a way to chip the ball to end up on the side of the hole that leaves you an uphill putt.
18. Take the Club Up on the Backswing, Not Inside
Many golfers make the mistake of taking the club away from the ball to the inside or too far to the inside. The takeaway on a chip shot should be a more neutral, straight back approach.
19. Take the Club Down to the Ball, Then Inside Follow Through
The downswing on a chip is more steep since you took the club away from the ball on a steeper back swing plane. This helps you pick the ball clean out of the grass.
If you came back down to the ball with a more shallow swing plane coming from the inside, then you’d have more interference with the grass which could hinder your club head’s path and impact with the ball. Think steeper swing plane with chipping to pick the ball clean.
20. Get on the Green
The first and foremost rule of chipping is to get the golf ball onto the green. We want to get up and down for par, taking only two shots to get the ball into the hole.
We can’t do this if we don’t get on the green with our first shot, chipping the ball. When facing a challenging chip shot, don’t try to get too cute and hit the perfect chip shot.
Take a more conservative approach and just get the ball on the green if you think it’s going to be almost impossible to pull off the perfect chip shot that gets the ball close to the hole.
The last thing we want is to fluff a chip two feet in front of us and have to chip a second time to get onto the green.
21. Don’t Leave Chips Too Short on the Green
Too many amateur golfers leave chip shots way short (5 feet to 15 feet). This makes the following putt hard to convert to save par and you end up two-putting instead of getting up & down.
22. Hit Out of Really Tall Grass with the Bunker Shot Technique
When we face golf shots in tall grass, the best technique is to use your typical bunker shot swing. In a bunker we are trying to pop the ball up out of the sand and same goes with tall grass. We need the ball to pop upwards out of the thick grass and land on the green.
Here’s our guide on hitting out of bunkers
23. How to Hit Higher Chip Shots
If you need to add loft and hit higher chip shots, you can move the ball more forward in the stance. Swing with some acceleration to generate more spin and higher shots.
24. How to Hit Lower Chip Shots
For lower flighted chip shots, move the ball further back in your stance. This promotes some forward shaft lean to shut the face producing less loft.
25. Ball Position for Flop Shots
On flop shots, we like to play the ball forward near our lead foot, instead of how most chips are centered in the stance or slightly behind center. This helps create space for the club to slide under the ball, popping it up high into the sky.
26. Be Great with One Wedge First
Every beginner and golfer who struggles with chipping should spend all their practice time with one wedge! Get really good with it!
The way wedges are designed today, sole grinds allow you to flatten out your wedge if you need to for high lofted shots.
So while you could master a 60 or 64 degree wedge, I prefer to practice with a lower lofted wedge like a 52, 54, or 56. This allows you to practice mainly low runner chip shots but also practice higher lofted shots by adjusting the face during set up.
27. Then Practice with Different Wedges
Using the same wedge all the time will get you really good with that wedge no doubt, but it also limits you in tough situations when you need to hit a certain type of chip in order to get near the hole still.
For example, if you have thick rough that your balls sitting down in and you have little green to work with, as the flag is close to the fringe by you, then you’ll need to hit a soft shot with high spin that can stop quickly upon landing.
If you’re only comfortable hitting a 50 degree wedge that has little carry and lots of roll then you’ll struggle to keep the ball from rolling far away from the hole once it lands on the green. This is where having experience with other clubs such as a 58 or 60 degree wedge can benefit you.
28. Clean Your Grooves
Need lots of spin to check up the ball and get it to stop with control? Make sure you clean your grooves prior to chipping.
Have a handy towel attached to your bag and dampen it a little before your round so you can get the club grooves wet if dirt has dried or hardened between the wedge’s grooves. Then use a brush tool that can scrub the grooves clean.
29. Chipping Repetition is Key
On the golf course, you’re going to be chipping up to 18 times per round depending on how many greens in regulation you hit with approach shots.
And your chips are going to be from a variety of distances, lies, and require different trajectories and spin rates to successfully position the ball close to the hole for your putt.
To be prepared for these limited number of chips per round, you have to practice a whole lot in your spare time. Chipping practice will be key to getting a high volume of reps in from different distances, angles to the flag, and lies.
30. Play the Right Golf Ball
Another overlooked factor that impacts your short game is your golf ball!
Many golfers focus on a ball that will give them more distance off the tee but forget about the short game aspect and picking out a golf ball with great control for around the greens. Our two favorite golf balls for increased spin & control with chipping are:
The cover of the golf ball is what will grab the grooves in your wedge and create backspin. Read golf ball specs before buying to learn what type of cover the ball has and how it impacts spin rates, short game, putting, and chipping.
31. Relax and Hit a Great Chip Shot
Our last chipping tip for you today is take a deep breathe. Relax yourself. Get your mind right. So much of chipping and the short game in general is mental!
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Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.
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Nick Foy, Instructor