Chipping on the golf course looks easy from afar. But when it comes time to actually do it, many amateur players find themselves at a loss on how to get the ball to do what they want it to do. Struggling to get a chip shot right can be embarrassing and have a negative impact on your score.
Fortunately, it’s possible to learn and improve your short game, including chip shots. This guide will show you easy steps you can take to practice and achieve the perfect chip.
Chipping is part of a golfer’s short game, so it’s crucial to know what it is, why it’s important, and how to do it.
When someone refers to a “chip” shot, they are talking about a golf shot played close to the green that sends the ball up into the air before it falls and rolls toward the hole. The goal of the shot is to get the ball over some fringe or rough that keeps you from being able to putt.
Therefore, chip shots are often played just a few yards from the putting surface.
Golfers usually use a wedge for this shot, although chipping can be achieved with any club. Another club often used is a 7- or 8-iron.
Mastering the chip shot has many benefits. Impedances on the course will no longer hinder you or cause you to accidentally send the ball to the other side of the green instead of into the hole. You will improve your short game, waste fewer strokes, and lower your score.
But there are also challenges for new golfers trying to achieve the perfect chip shot. Many amateurs aren’t sure of the proper swing technique, or they use a club that makes the shot more difficult than it needs to be. Lots of beginners also try to “lift” the golf ball into the air with their club, making contact inconsistent and resulting in a botched shot.
Read the guide below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to achieve a great chip shot and improve your short game.
How to Chip a Golf Ball: The Basics
There are many drills and techniques that will help you chip the ball better. Here are steps you can practice to reach that goal.
Use a Good Club
When learning to do a basic chip shot, you should use a 52- to 56-degree wedge. This club is most beneficial to you when chipping in a spot where you only have a short distance between your ball’s landing spot and the hole. A more lofted club will keep the ball from rolling too far.
When chipping with more room on the putting surface, a 7-iron or other straight-faced club would be more beneficial. However, it’s important to practice your chip shot using all kinds of clubs. The more variety in the clubs you use, the better your overall technique will be, rather than just perfecting a single shot.
Consider Where the Ball Lies
If your ball is in longer rough, you will need a lofted club, regardless of where the hole is. Longer rough requires a longer swing, so you can get the ball up and over the grass. If the ball is in a depression, that usually requires a straight-faced club. Sometimes, though, you may need to use more loft and adjust your stance so the ball is closer to your right foot.
Know Where Your Ball Should Land
It’s important to choose the spot where you want the ball to land after the shot. This should ideally be on the putting surface, so your ball’s trajectory after that first bounce will be easier to predict. If your chip lands on rough or uneven ground, it could send the ball into another tricky spot.
Keep your mental eye on this spot during the shot. Visualizing where you want the ball to land will help you be more accurate.
Set Up Right
The ball should be center and your weight should be distributed so your left shoulder lines up over your left foot. Keep your hips still. The trunk of your body is what should move forward with your swing, not your hips. It is the heaviest part of your body.
Your stance should be narrow, giving about a foot between your heels. Pulling your left foot away from the target line opens up your stance and gives you better control. The ball should be approximately two inches to the left of the big toe on your right foot.
Grip the club with your right hand, keeping your right arm straight and right shoulder high. This measures the distance to the ball using your arm, and this measurement is more accurate using your dominant hand. Otherwise, you’ll misjudge and the club will hit the ground too early.
Once you’ve set up your right arm, grip with your left as well and level your shoulders.
On the backswing, you should aim to fold your right arm while hinging the left wrist. This will move the head of the club upward, so you can hit slightly down when the club makes impact. Keep your shoulders from moving up on the backswing.
On the downswing, unfold your right arm with your elbow tucked near your side. Your right shoulder shouldn’t feel like it’s lower than where it started at address. If it does feel a little low, keep your right wrist bent a bit to help ensure a solid strike.
Make Solid Contact
If your contact is inconsistent, you will chunk or thin and the ball will go everywhere except where you want it to go. To make solid contact, the low point of your downswing needs to be just right, either at the ball or slightly in front of it. The goal is to hit the ball first and brush the turf second.
If your stance is incorrect, your swing will be affected. Be sure not to tilt or shift your weight in a way that puts you off-balance. Set yourself up right to set yourself up for success.
See this video below for more on chipping a golf ball:
How to Chip a Golf Ball: Best Drills You Can Do at Home
Now that you know the basics of the shot, here are some drills you can practice at home to improve your chipping. They just take a few minutes, and a little bit of practice each day will help you improve greatly the next time you’re out on the golf course.
Chip a Coin
Take some old change and scatter it across the carpet, placing a plastic cup in the middle of your practice zone. Because you’re practicing with coins, which can scratch the head, use an old wedge for this drill.
Practice hitting the coins into the cup. Choke down on the wedge to maintain the right speed and control throughout your swing. You want to lightly brush the carpet, making good contact with the coin. Once you’ve nailed that, hitting a golf ball will seem like a breeze.
Aim for a Chair
You’ve got plenty of chairs at home to choose from. For this drill, you just need one with a back, a cushion, and a bottom. This will help you control the trajectory of your ball after it hits the landing spot.
Using a wedge club, set yourself up three to six feet from the chair of your choice. Try a basic chip and note where it hits on the chair to get a sense of your baseline trajectory.
Change your ball position and club to try to hit different zones of the chair. Notice the results produced by certain clubs and ball positions. The further the ball is toward the back of your stance, the lower its trajectory through the air. If you need to get the ball higher, move it forward, but be careful not to go too far.
Use the Backyard
This drill focuses on accurately getting the ball in the landing spot you pick. Put an alignment stick in your backyard and practice landing the ball right next to it from about six feet away. Don’t worry about where the ball ends up after landing—the important thing is that you learn how long a stroke should be to get the ball landing in the right place.
Chipping strokes are slow and low and should not take a divot in your yard. Use your wedges and 9-iron to run this drill, keeping a consistent tempo to control for the length of your backswing.
Chip shots are an important staple in a golfer’s short game. Achieving a good chip has many benefits, and it’s not so hard to learn. It’s important to understand the right club to use in various situations where you need to chip, as well as the proper stance and swing technique to get the ball up and over the rough.
If you can’t spend hours and hours practicing on the course every week, there are drills you can do at home to help improve your chipping one step at a time. You’ll find your short game in great form next time you hit the links.