Have you been in a situation where a well placed chip shot would keep you on par, only to find yourself unsure of how to finish your round? If your golfing short game is anything like mine, you probably answered yes. Be honest: we practice our drives and we practice our putting, but we tend to leave our chip shots up to chance. If so, we are neglecting a very important part of the overall game. The good news is perfecting your chip shot is not as difficult as it may appear. With a little bit of knowledge (and a fair amount of practice), perfecting the chip shot will give you the precision and distance you need to stay on par.
To successfully chip a golf ball, you are going to need just the basics. While you will not need all of the clubs, you will certainly need clubs with the higher angles: the sand, lob and pitching wedges, for instance, as well as the higher-numbered irons. Also, the quality of the golf ball you use does matter in some respects, especially if you are going to work on your backspin. Cheaper balls are not constructed as to make shots with a backspin easier to achieve.
Perfecting the Chip Shot: Determine the Target and Trajectory of the Ball
If you are going to place the ball in a specific spot, you obviously need to know where you want it to go. To do this, you need to be able to estimate the distance. At the same time, though, you need to figure out how high you want the ball to go. This is especially important if you need to get the ball over an obstacle, such as a sand trap. Do you need the ball to go a relatively short distance, but with a high arc? Is distance more important in this particular shot? Do you need something in the middle? When you put these factors together, you get an overall trajectory.
Perfecting the Chip Shot: Choosing the Right Club
The club you choose will be determined by the answers to the questions in step 1. If you need a higher arc, you will want a club with a larger angle, like a lob or pitching wedge. If you need to have the ball travel farther, then a club with less of an angle might do the trick. Finally, keep in mind that the higher the arc, the less the ball will roll when it hits the ground.
Perfecting the Chip Shot: Paying Attention to the Backswing
With a chip shot, the speed of the club is much less important than the distance of your backswing. The farther back you take the club, the harder the overall impact will be. For example, taking a lob wedge back halfway will get you a shot of around 30 yards, while going back three-quarters will generally take the ball about twenty yards further.
Perfecting the Chip Shot: Keeping Your Wrists in Place
With a chip shot, you want your wrists to stay fairly calm as you approach the ball. This will create less movement in your swing. The trajectory of the ball will be largely affected by the position of the club head and where on the club face you will hit. Therefore, minimizing your wrist movement will help keep your hits solid and consistent.
Perfecting the Chip Shot: Practice, Practice, Practice
You will not become a proficient chipper unless you practice the chip shot. In this case, practice means imagining- and practicing- many different scenarios. Practice with a variety of clubs, from the highest-angled wedges down to the lower irons. Work on distance, but also keep in mind that trajectory is also important. Practice with different levels of backswing as well, learning the different impacts you can have from different spots. Knowledge is good; but in this case, practice is important for building your eye and muscle memory.
Last Minute Tips
● Swinging harder is not the answer: do not force the ball towards the hole. Let the club do the work.
● Shorter shots are harder to master. Spend extra time on these.
● The higher the loft, the less roll on the ground.
● Got the basics down? Work on adding backspin to the ball. This is a great trick for getting the ball to stop dead in its tracks- but it does take practice.
Using these tips while at your next trip to the golf range will see results. Let me know how you are faring!