7 Lessons for Better Chipping
It’s true. If you want to improve your golf game you really should improve your chipping. Easy words to say, but how do you do it?
Here’s my seven best lessons for improving your chipping;
Brush the ground to learn a perfect strike
Grab a piece of chalk and draw a line (perpendicular to the target line) on some carpet or a golf mat. With a clear mind attempt to hit the chalk line with the bottom of your club. Forget about all the rules and regulations that you may be used to and focus your attention on brushing (striking) the line.
When you can hit the line consistently you’re ready to introduce a ball. Place the ball about an inch behind the line and keep your focus on hitting the line. This objective will make you strike the ball first and the big ball (Earth) second.
To push yourself further close your eyes, first without a ball and then with one. When you can strike the line with your eyes closed your chipping is on the improve.
If you ever get stuck or start mishitting your chips come back to the chalk line. It’s a simple drill that will improve your short game no end. Also remember to brush the chalk line – hit it hard enough to remove some chalk but don’t bash your club into the ground. A smooth and controlled stroke is your goal.
Place the ball off your back foot
This is about as technical as I like to get. If hitting the chalk line is not working or you find it difficult – then move the ball opposite your back foot. This tip makes it easier to hit the ball first and avoid chipping’s biggest mistake – hitting the ground first.
Although placing the ball further back in your stance will result in a lower trajectory, this is much better than duffing chip shots.
Forget about the high lob shot
I know this will not be that popular but unless you’ve spent plenty of time practicing these shots it’s best you don’t use them. Better to play a shot that you feel comfortable with and one that has a higher percentage of success. For most people this will be a 8 or 9 iron (played off the back foot) that is aimed at a portion of the green.
I’m not saying never hit a lob shot. If it’s your only chance then go for it, but if you have an easier and safer option I believe you’ll be better off. This is also a hint to practice those difficult shots until you can play them with more confidence.
Don’t be scared to use the putter
It’s not weak to use the putter from off the green. If you’re not feeling good about a particular chip shot you can always use your putter. It may not be the prettiest option but it can often be the most effective. If you want to shoot the best score possible then don’t worry about playing boring shots – play the shot that has the most chance of success.
I’ve also had tremendous success using my three wood for chipping. The bigger club gives the ball the extra momentum it needs to get through the fringe and the larger sole of the three wood slides nicely on top of the grass. In other words you’ll avoid those dreaded duffed shots.
You can also chip with a 5 and 6 iron. The stroke is similar to a putt but you’re able to get extra impetus on the ball to get through rough and fairway and onto the green.
Use course strategy to avoid those nasty chips
I’m a big fan of playing to my strengths. My ball striking is my strongest asset with chipping the weakest. I have been able to play better golf and shoot lower scores by avoiding chip shots where possible. I’ll shoot away from tight pins if missing the target means I’ll be left with a nasty little chip shot.
Sure, I don’t make many birdies on these holes but I now make less bogeys or worse. I’m minimising the damage and playing to my strengths. I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself with how many shots you can save by playing smarter and away from those tricky pin placements.
This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to grasp but one that has allowed me to reach a higher level of play, have more fun and reach my potential. This type of lesson isn’t usually that popular but it’s worth exploring if you’re serious about your game.
A little practice won’t hurt
You don’t need to spend hours and hours working on your chipping game but some time is beneficial. My advice is to spend 10 minutes per week on hitting the chalk line and thinking about playing smarter rather than the pretty stuff. I know 10 minutes is not much time but this is more than most people devote to their chipping.
Don’t forget to automate
Like all parts of the game I think automation of the chipping game will take your results to new heights. There’s no short cut to automating your chipping. It takes discipline, courage and some persistence. The effort is well worth it because you’ll end up with something remarkable.
There’s really no magic to better chipping. The biggest key is to play the shots you know you can hit. This means forgetting about hitting chips you think you should be able to play and only attempt those you really know you can play successfully.
This strategy takes some patience. You may have to putt from off the green and play safely from difficult situations when you’ll be tempted to go for it. It’s not always fun but you will shoot lower scores and this is what most people are after. And shooting lower scores really is a lot of fun 🙂