How often have you been just off the green and thinking to yourself, “All I have to do is get up and down for my par save” and then one of two things happen…
1. You chunk or bottom out the club, and the ball goes two feet (always the most embarrassing)
2. You blade or skull the ball across the green and have a quick tennis match going back and forth across the green… These faults are devastating to your short chipping game! Happens to everyone now and again, so you are NOT alone.
When I was playing in tournaments back in college, I would be playing great and then out of nowhere, a chunk shot… NOOOO!! Worst of all, these types of shots seem to come at the worst times right when you need a par save. But here’s the good news. I was finally fed up and frustrated one day after failing to make the cut for one of my rounds that I was determined to find the answers as to why this happens and how I can teach my students Never To Have These Faults Again.
Now, the kicker! What if I told you the same thing caused both faults! That’s right! There is only one reason why those types of shots happen, and I’m here to explain how to avoid this fault and what we can do to hit clean, crisp chip shots and feel confident around those greens again!
Here are my 7 quick tips s to improve your chipping, fast!
1. DON’T FLIP YOUR WRISTS!
The single cause of either blading your chip shot or chunking is because of the flipping of your wrists during your downswing. You may have heard this term called “scooping” as well.
Here is how you can tell if you are flipping your wrists at impact:
- The head of the club has passed the handle of your club
- Your leading wrist has hyper extended and is no longer flat
- You are standing taller after impact
- Your dominant hand has “flipped” towards the target
Now that we know what causes those dreadful types of shots, we can now focus on what we can do to fix this.
2. Correct Stance And Ball Position
Now you may be saying, Justin, I thought there was only one reason why we hit poor chip shots?
While yes, the scoop does cause both faults, having correct posture will set the body in place for the arms and shoulders to rotate around the body.
- We need to make sure that our feet our angled OPEN to our target to make sure the arms have enough space is necessary for the swing.
- Our feet should be very close together so that our weight is ahead of the golf ball NOT behind
- Ball position should be in the middle to back or the stance to ensure that we are hitting DOWN on the ball and not scooping up to make contact.
Believe it or not, there is a correct ball position for EACH ONE OF YOUR CLUBS! To learn more about where to put the ball in your stance, here is a link to my article that takes you through each step!
Note: We must remember to keep our weight 75% on our front leg and 25% on the back. Very important to keep that weight forward throughout the ENTIRE chip to ensure good contact.
3. Proper Grip
Now, if you have stuck with me so far, Good Job! This next step is often overlooked by a lot of teachers out there and in my opinion, is one of the most crucial parts of hitting a great chip shot!
- (Most important) Make sure your top hand is turned over enough so that you can see 3 Knuckles on that hand. The purpose of having this strong of a grip is to essentially, “lock,” your leading wrist in place. You will feel almost immediately that you will be using more of your upper body and arms, taking away any possibility of using your wrists to make the swing
- Have a tighter leading hand (top hand): The pressure on the leading hand should be a little more than your dominant hand as you should feel as if you are controlling your swing with the back of your front hand. (non-dominant hand)
4. Takeaway and Downswing
So we have our grip and posture… Now what?
Keeping the weight on your front side, use your shoulders to move the arms back behind the ball. The lower body should stay quiet, and you should feel that weight staying loaded on the front side.
Keeping the head down now, lead with the GRIP of the club, not the clubhead as you are approaching impact. This will allow the hands to come through the ball FIRST followed by the clubhead.
Now as long as your weight has stayed forward and you didn’t peak to look where your ball is going, you will have hit the ball squarely and performed a perfect chip shot.
5. What Are You Aiming for
Still with me?….
Good, so if you have practiced these steps, you should already feel a difference from your old swing and are transforming into a master of the chip shot. However, even with the right stance, ball position grip and swing, you still need to know where the shot needs to land to have a successful chance to make the up and down.
What club are you using? Are you playing a nice bump and run with a 9 iron? Or are you hitting a nice 60-degree shot planning to get some spin? You have to know which club you want to use for that particular shot. Unfortunately, there is no right club for every chip shot, and we have to decide based on what the course has given us.
- Bump and run: Using an 8i, 9i is a great way to keep the ball low and gain a lot of roll on your chip shot. This approach is used when you have a lot of green to work with, and the slope is relatively flat. Treat this shot like a big putt, standing tall, keeping the arms locked down, and the ball will stay nice and low to the ground. A good rule of thumb is to have your shot land 25% of the distance to the hole and roll out the last 75%.
- Sand Wedge: A favorite shot on tour, this shot will allow you to hit the ball closer towards the hole and have it roll out a small amount. Rule of thumb, you will want to hit this shot about 60% or the distance to hole while allowing 40% to roll out. Warning: This shot is a little higher in difficulty because there is more room for error. However, if mastered you will look like a pro in front of your friends.
5. Drills Drills Drills
You will need to practice these drills to learn the correct swing that is necessary for all chip shots.
- Start with the ONE FOOT DRILL. To execute this drill, All you need to do is get into the proper stance (as mentioned above) and lift your back foot in the air, so it is hovering. Take ten shots with this stance, and you will feel the proper weight balance, “loading” on your front side hitting DOWN at the golfball.
- ENLARGED GOLF CLUB DRILL: This is my FAVORITE DRILL for my students because you feel the change immediately. For this drill, you create an enlarged club (adding two clubs together) and tuck the butt end of the top club under your lead arm. You will receive feedback when you flip your hands, the butt end of the club will hit your ribs. You will notice that the butt end of the club will be facing towards the target at impact and that your hands are away from the body so you CANNOT flip your wrists! You can also practice this drill at home with a standard broom, using it like a golf club.
6. Surviving From the Rough
Good job reading so far! I hope these chipping strategies are starting to sink in.
My last tip for chipping around the green is how to hit out of the rough. While the technique is still the same as tips I listed above, we have to make a few adjustments to achieve consistency when chipping from the long grass.
The entire purpose of the rough is to grab your club face when swinging down at the golf ball. So to prevent this from happening we have to do the following:
- Use a 9 iron, pitching wedge or sand wedge when in the rough by the green. We need to do this because these clubs have more loft and will help “pop” the ball into the air and land softly on the putting surface. To learn more about which clubs you need in your bag, read here!
- Open up the clubface: To open up the club face, turn your club in your hands clockwise (right-handed golfers). This allows the club face to slide right underneath the golf ball adding trajectory to your chip.
- Accelerate: Probably the most common fault I see from beginners in the rough is that they decelerate when chipping in the rough (their arms stop down at the golf ball) Not only will this cause inconsistent chips, it will be tough for you to judge the distance of your shots. KEEP THOSE ARMS MOVING AFTER CONTACT. Remember, the rough wants to grab your club so by accelerating through the ball, the grass will be less likely to alter your clubface.
7. DON’T GIVE UP
Here is what usually happens to my beginning students after they learn these tips:
- They feel uncomfortable with the new swing and revert to the old routine
- They don’t put in the time to practice, and the muscles never learn the new swing
Don’t Give Up!
I’m going to tell you up front that it is going to feel uncomfortable. At first! The more time you practice, the easier it is going to be. I have too many students give up and go back to their old chipping pattern only to never improve around the greens. Don’t be like them! Put in the time and you will see results.
Head to your local golf course and practice hitting chip shots around the putting green. These tips so critical when trying to gain consistency around the green, it just takes time for your muscles to learn this new swing.
Use this post as a reference when you are out on the course and remember
- Don’t flip my wrists
- Do I have correct ball position and stance
- Do I see three knuckles on my top hand
- What am I aiming for
- What club am I going to use (bump and run or high chips shot)
- Open up the clubface and use a club with more loft
- Don’t give up, trust the process!
Follow this checklist and start practicing right away!
I guarantee that after a few weeks, your muscles will start to learn this new swing and you will FINALLY, be able to save par from around the green with confidence!