Golfers of all ability levels are capable of chipping the ball solidly if they are willing to learn techniques that reduce the margin of error for this challenging shot. The two most common errors in hitting chip shots are to either hit the ball thin or fat. Both problems are caused by the same mistake in technique: trying to scoop the ball into the air rather than hitting down on the back of the ball. A solidly struck chip shot should travel the same distance each time, allowing the golfer to focus more on the line. Following are steps that, properly executed, will enable you to hit more consistent and reliable chip shots.
Set up with the ball 3 to 6 inches back in your stance from center. Use 3 inches back for your 7-iron and then move the ball progressively back in your stance as you select shorter clubs, ending 6 inches back of center with your pitching wedge. Placing the ball further back in your stance makes it easier to hit down on the back of the ball, which will result in a more solid chip shot.
Select a club that will enable you to reach your target with a shortened backswing. A one-quarter to one-third backswing will significantly improve your chances of hitting solid chips. Use your pitching wedge when you need to reduce the distance a chip shot will roll, such as for a downhill chip. Use a shortened backswing with your 7-, 8- and 9-irons when you need to roll the ball longer distances or uphill.
When chipping with your pitching wedge, position your hands a couple of inches in front of the ball at address. Cock your wrists at the end of your backswing and keep them cocked during the shot. Keeping your wrists cocked instead of releasing your hands as you do with a normal swing will increase your chances of hitting the ball solidly. The reasoning behind this is that when your wrists are cocked, the blade of the golf club is square with the ball for a longer period of time at the bottom of your swing.
When chipping with your 9-iron through 7-iron, use your putting stroke but strike the ball on a slight downstroke. Practice using this technique with your 9-iron to hit chip shots on a level surface approximately 20 feet. Then use your 8-iron to practice 30-foot chips and your 7-iron for 40-foot chips. This shot technique will cause the ball to roll more readily, since both loft and backspin are reduced.
Regardless of which club or swing technique you use for a chip shot, be sure to accelerate through the ball. Don't make the mistake of slowing your swing through impact in an attempt to control distance. A shortened backswing and the loft of the club will enable you to control the distance that a chip shot will travel, but you must accelerate through the ball at impact to achieve solid contact.