How to master the art of chipping a golf ball
All golfers need to be able to chip the ball close to the hole when they miss the green. We know that an eighteen handicapper will hit around three greens in regulation per round and even a scratch golfer will miss around a third of the greens. This means the difference between a good round and a great round of golf is how well you consistently get up and down. In this article we will discuss the art of chipping and give you our three top practice drills to try out on the range.
Firstly let’s define what we mean by a chip shot. A chip shot is a shot that rises off the ground for a short time and then rolls out to the hole. We have much more control of the shot when it is rolling, so our first thought should be ‘ can we putt the ball’? If not then a chip shot should be our second option.
Next you want to select the club. This will vary from shot to shot and can be any club from a sand wedge through to a seven iron. If the hole is fairly close and you just need to bump the ball over the fringe and roll out for a few feet then a sand or lob wedge would be the club to reach for. However if the hole was further back on the green and you had some distance to cover then a nine or eight iron may be a better club to choose. This will need some practice and experimenting for you to be able to see the shot and select the correct club.
Now you have selected the shot and the club let’s talk about the technique. If you were to play a full shot you would address the ball with you weight evenly distributed between both feet. With a chip shot we want to ensure we hit down on the ball with a clean strike so we shift our weight onto our left foot with something like and eighty twenty weight distribution. We also need to play the ball back in our stance to encourage that downward strike, this will help a clean strike on the back of the ball. One last point with regard to the set up. We want you to aim your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly left of your target line in an open set up. This will help you clear your hips through the shot and prevent any release of the club head. The chip shot is played without any wrist break so keep your wrists as passive as you can.
Now let’s look at our top three drills that will help you on the practice ground.
One handed chipping. This is a great drill to develop feel of the clubhead through the ball. Take six balls and using just your left hand try to chip the balls within a three feet circle of the target. Once you can do this consistently move onto your right hand and do the same. Finish the session by placing both hands back on the club and aim for a smaller circle of eighteen inches. You will soon develop a much better feel for distance control and even start holing a few.
Drill number two is to place a pencil in the strap of your watch on your left hand underneath the watch face. This will prevent you from breaking your wrists during the shot. This is a very effective drill if you have a habit of trying to scoop the ball up to the hole and are consistently hitting bladed shots across the green. Hit a dozen balls with the pencil in place and then remove the pencil and hit a dozen more. Keep repeating this drill until you feel you are getting a consistent strike on the ball.
Our final tip is to help the golfer who seem to shift their weight during the swing and find it difficult to keep their weight on their left side throughout the shot. Get into your set up as previously described and place a golf ball under the heal of your right foot and play your chip shot. Having a golf ball under your right foot will ensure your weight is on your left side and you do not fall back during the shot. Try hitting a dozen shots with the golf ball under your heal and then a dozen without.
These are three great drills that we have seen be very successful. Why not give them a try….
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The Golf Talk team