How to Hole More Chips

By Sandy Retsky

You hit a chip shot when your ball lies between the edge of the green and approximately 10 yards off the green with no obstacle in front of you; an obstacle means a different shot. Short grass between your ball and the green gives you the option of chipping or putting this shot; choose whichever is more comfortable. There are many ways to chip. With good technique and touch, you will hole more chips. Think like the golfer who holed a 25-foot chip on the first hole. When asked, he said he did that at least once per round. Your goal is to think like him.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Check your shot preparation. Read the green for distance and direction as you would read a putt. Determine "the shot path into the hole" (how much flight, how much roll). Imagine tossing a ball that rolls into the hole; how would that toss look? Check the landing spot for any slope that might affect the direction of the first bounce. Determine "the swing for your shot path." Leave the flagstick in the hole if you are on a down slope (to stop the ball if it is moving too fast); otherwise take it out or have someone tend it.
Step 2
Choose your club. You want the club that matches your chosen shot path. Some golfers chip with one club (adjusting the swing based on distance); others chip with different clubs (choosing a club based on distance). You determine this through practice.
Step 3
Check your physical setup. Stand closer to the ball and place your feet closer together than a full swing. Your weight should be evenly balanced on your feet and you must choke up your hands to near the bottom of the grip. Your hands should be slightly ahead of the clubhead at setup and impact. Your ball position should be back in your stance (try inside back foot). Check that the palm of your back hand and clubface are square to the shot path.
Step 4
Check your mental setup. Visualize "the shot path into the hole." Believe "I will hole this shot."
Step 5
Check your swing. A chip swing is both a shortened, slowed down pitch swing and an enhanced putting stroke. Adjust the length of your back swing and follow through to the distance of the shot, keeping your clubhead below your waist. There is minimal body movement, minimal shoulder movement and minimal wrist action (or no wrist action). Swing smoothly and gently.
Step 6
Practice on a driving range. The flight and roll of the ball gives you instant feedback. Make adjustments. Good chippers have "touch," which is an intimate understanding of the terrain (length of grass, firmness of the green, contour of the green--it is different for each course) and the execution of the shot. Practice develops "touch" and everyone can learn to chip with a simple repeatable swing.

Tips & Warnings

Look at your swing on a regular basis: Most digital cameras record videos so ask a fellow golfer to take a video from a side view and a back view. Save your video to check for consistency over time. A good chip shot will either go in the hole or stop about one foot past the hole (a short shot never goes in).
Look at your swing on a regular basis: Most digital cameras record videos so ask a fellow golfer to take a video from a side view and a back view. Save your video to check for consistency over time.
A good chip shot will either go in the hole or stop about one foot past the hole (a short shot never goes in).
Because a chip shot is not a full swing, determining and executing the correct swing length and swing speed is difficult.

About The Author

Sandy Retsky caddied at Baltusrol in Springfield, NJ and owned a software consulting business in New York, NY. He is a partner at Reverie Winery in Napa Valley and Butterfly restaurant in San Francisco. He has been writing for golflink.com since early 2009.

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