One of the fastest ways to lower your scores is to improve your success rate in getting the ball up and down when you miss a green. Even out on tour, most players hit only 12 greens out of 18 a round or fewer on average. So the ability to turn three shots into two more often around the green is crucial for all golfers.
That’s why it’s good to have a reliable, straightforward chip shot in your locker to deal with most – though not all – situations you may face when you miss a green.
This article about how to chip in golf addresses the technique required to master the basic chip shot. You’ll find advice about the more specialist options you may sometimes require around the green elsewhere on the Golf Monthly website, including the flop shot or lob shot, the hybrid chip and the greenside bunker shot.
When and why to chip
A good rule of thumb is that if there are no slopes, bunkers or mounds to go over, you should play a lower chip shot – often called the chip and run - to get the ball running as soon as possible.
You should also bear in mind that if your ball is only just off the green, or the fringes are cut quite tight, the putter may often be an even better option.
Setting up for a chip
For the simple greenside chip, narrow your stance and set more of your weight on your left side – about 60-65% - with the shaft leaning forwards a little.
Your sternum should be slightly ahead of the ball. Set your feet and hips a little open to the target and grip down the club a little.
Resist the temptation to get the ball too far back in your stance, as this will get the shaft leaning too much and prevent you from using the bounce in the sole of the club properly. It will increase the risk of you simply sticking the leading edge into the ground at impact and duffing the shot.
Basic chipping technique
From here, retain the triangle created between arms and shoulders and simply rock them back and through with very little wrist break.
Crucially, keep the weight favouring your left side throughout rather than shifting to the right as it should in a fuller shot.
Keep everything moving forward through the shot and allow your eyes to follow the ball. Don’t stop your head at impact or keep it down too long as you’ll end up just flicking at the ball, resulting in inconsistent striking.
Choice of club
Don’t automatically reach for one of your wedges unless you need to carry a downslope on the green, for example.
For the running chip, a 9- or 8-iron, or maybe even lower, will prove a more reliable option for many. Once you have mastered how to chip in golf, you can play shots of varying lengths simply by changing club - perhaps a running 7-iron up the green to a back pin.
Getting the ball on the ground and running as soon as possible is a great philosophy for a more risk-free approach to chipping.
Safety first – the toe-down shot
One of the most frequent causes of poor chipping is the heel of the club digging in at impact leading to heavy contact.
A great way to take this risk out of the equation, especially from tricky or muddy lies, is to address the ball with the toe of the club down more and the heel a little off the ground.
It won’t come out with spin, and won’t work in all scenarios, but in many instances it’s a great way of almost guaranteeing the strike to reduce the risk of a duffed chip.
A common mistake – flicking at it
Flicking at the ball to help it up is a very common chipping fault. Clubs have up to 60˚ of loft or more, so there really is no need to flick at it to get the ball up.
A good drill to remedy this is to push an alignment stick down the shaft of the club, which then sits under your lead arm at address. As you come back into the ball, if you’re flicking at it, the clubhead will try to overtake your hands through impact and the stick will hit your lead side.
Concentrate on keeping everything moving forward through impact with no flipping of the wrists as you hit the ball.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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