HOW TO STOP HITTING YOUR CHIPS FAT
Posted by Seth Zipay, January 15th, 2020
Last Updated: August 8th, 2022
The biggest obstacle keeping players from getting to the next level of improvement is greens in regulation. The average 15 handicap only hits 19% of their greens from 130 yards and up. And obviously that percentage drops the farther they are from the green. This means in any 18-hole round you are faced with many chip shots and trying to get up-and-down. That puts a lot of pressure on your short game, and thus your putter. Four hours of grinding to save par and bogey takes the fun right out of the game and your clubs end up on Craigslist fairly quickly.
Too many people think that the chip shot is nothing but an arms swing. I see all the time a player takes a nice, relaxed practice motion, brushing the turf ever so finely with the sole bottoming out with the perfect strike; then they take a step in, address the ball, and everything gets stiff. The next few tips are not only going to improve your technique and thought process, but with practice and repetition, I guarantee you’ll start chipping the ball closer to the hole and tapping in more often….or hearing those oh sweet words from your playing partner, “that’s good, pick it up.”
Choke Down For Shorter Shots
With a short shot you always want to choke down a couple inches to shorten the club. You will have more control. Gripping at the end of the club and trying to rehearse a swing that makes the ball travel 15 yards is extremely awkward and unorthodox, and it will be difficult to judge how far the ball carries. Keep golf simple: short shot, short club.
Narrow Your Stance
No need to stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With a chip shot we are swinging for control here, not power. Narrow your stance to where you have no more than 4-6 inches between your feet. The wider you stand the more you have a tendency to slide or have too many moving parts.
Rotate Your Body
A chip or pitch shot is not an “arms only” shot; far from it. Players hear someone say “just take a putting stroke with your 8 iron” and get all screwed up. Through impact your chest should rotate to your target. In the finish position the club will be in front of your belt buckle with your chest facing the target. In order to time this properly and ensure the club bottoms out in the correct spot, you want to lead your downswing with the rotation of your lead hip. This transfers your weight forward towards the target.
The loft of the club you choose obviously determines the trajectory at which the ball travels, but ball position does as well. If you want to play a higher, soft-landing pitch, you want to play the ball more forward in your stance. Your hands will stay neutral and you will use the loft and bounce of the club. If you want to play something lower with some topspin, play the ball back from middle with your hands creating some forward shaft lean. This decreases the loft and ensures you lead the grip through first.
This is something you will need to experiment with and practice as you go, and make adjustments based on results. We always teach to pitch and chip with a slightly open stance because it creates a steeper swing arc and ensures you catch the ball first. But you want to make sure you are still swinging the club on your target line, not your feet line. Start with an open stance and adjust based on the direction your ball travels. If you notice you are pulling a lot of chips, square up your stance and try to release the club more at the hole.
Use any one or a combination of these techniques on the range to get a feel for how the ball reacts and then go hit the course! Through proper implementation and practice you'll shave strokes off your score and see improvements in your chipping game immediately.