How to Stop Skulling Chips

By Savannah Richardson

A well-struck chip shot at impact

The two most common problems on short chip shots are the chunk and the skull. Both misses can infuriate golfers, but if you follow these simple instructions on how to stop skulling chips, you can save yourself some serious frustration.

The term “skull” describes the blow where we catch the middle of the ball with the edge of the club. Such a blow sends the ball much lower and farther than intended, which much greater speed. An extremely undesirable trifecta.

Set Up to Stop Skulling Chip Shots

Take your stance and place your weight on your front foot. Keep it there. Keep your head still, directly over the ball, with your eyes focused downward on the ball. Advance your hands slightly so they’re in front of the ball.

Hitting the Ball Pure

Take the club back a short distance, to the back of your thigh, or no more than a foot. Use a crisp, firm downward swing. Pinch the ball against the ground, following through to create a divot after striking the ball.

Chipping Drills to Stop Skulling

Without practice, understanding the proper technique is not very beneficial. Try these two drills to make a perfect strike on your chip shots second-nature.

The Three Bottoms of the Golf Swing

You should take a divot every single time you use an iron. The only three things required for the Three Bottoms drill from John Elliot, are you, a can of paint and a wedge, or any iron you have.

First, paint a straight line on the ground, then straddle the line and put the club in your lead arm. Start swinging the club back and forth. Notice where the club is hitting the ground, this is the lead arm bottom. If golfers only used their lead arm, they would always hit the ground forward of the center of their body.

If you repeat the drill swinging the club in only your trail arm, you will notice the trail arm bottom is behind the line.

The goal is to learn how to hit down on the ball, which is why you practice with your lead arm.

Use a 3-Wood to Chip From the Fringe

It’s often hard to chip when you’re on the fringe and the lie is tight. Sometimes golfers putt from here, others attempt to chip, but those doesn’t always produce a good shot. Instead, try using your 3-wood.

The 3-wood has around 15-degrees of loft while typically a putter has four. The more loft, the more likely the ball will stay on top of the grass, making it a lot easier to get to the hole instead of bouncing it through the grass with a putter.

Set up like you would with a chip, choke down on your 3-wood and stand the club very upright, getting close to it just like you would with a putter. Now make a putting stroke and you’ll see the ball will run easily up the tight lie.

Practicing this shot is helpful for when you get in one of these tight situations and just don’t quite trust your chipping ability.

Tips to Remember

Most skulls are caused by a player swaying, often because they lift their head just prior to making contact with the ball. That movement causes you to lift up and hit the middle of the ball.

Another mistake that golfers make when chipping is trying to lift the ball with a scooping action instead of hitting down. Such a move will cause you to lift your head and hit the center of the ball instead of the bottom half.

Using the steps above and the drills can help you improve on hitting down on the ball and give you a creative way to use your 3-Wood in chipping situations.

Image: Mats Silvan/Moment via Getty Images

About the Author

Savannah Richardson is a staff writer for GolfLink. She’s a daily golfer and has worked for two years covering amateur and professional golf events with and The Brunswick News. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.