Chipping is often the most confused of all the short game strokes, it really does not need to be.
Firstly, the height the ball needs to fly when chipping is irrelevant.
If I need the ball to fly high, e.g. to carry a bunker or similar, then the shot becomes a “Pitch”, which involves a different swing method.
Chipping, all I am doing is bumping the ball onto the green and letting it roll up to the hole.
Why is that important?
It is much easier to judge what the ball will do when it is rolling, when you fly the ball to the hole you are not sure will it bounce left or right, will it stop, will it release?
If you are rolling it you can already see the path the ball will take.
The stroke is not dissimilar to a putting action.
Some people advocate hinging the wrists in a chipping swing, this can be beneficial for better golfers, but if we are struggling with contact, primarily “scooping” the ball, the worst thing we can do is add a steeper angle of attack at impact, we will now hit the ball in the center and it will roll across the green, could go anywhere.
The biggest cause of fat and thin chip shots is ‘flicky’ wrists, because you are trying to help the ball in the air.
It may not be obvious to you but if your ball striking is inconsistent when hitting chip shots, it’s probably because of too much wrist motion.
The setup for a solid chip, is to have the feet very close together, almost touching, the ball in the center, this way the club will always impact where the ball is.
The butt of the club, (the top of the grip) should be pointing to the lead side pocket. With a lofted club, this would mean the hands are slightly ahead of the ball.
Because of very little body rotation, you may want to drop the lead foot back a bit to “open” the stance. This will pre-clear the hips, so they don’t have to turn trough the strike, remember less moving parts means less things can go wrong.
One point though, just open the front foot, if you open both feet the hands will follow the hips, so for a right handed player all the shots will go left, make sure your trail foot is parallel to your target line.
I also do not set most of the weight on the lead foot, this changes the way the ball reacts when it lands on the green.
Quite simply now, keeping the body quite still, the hands go back to the thigh, then forward to the thigh, the ball will fly onto the green and roll towards the hole.
(Picture Jim McLean)
One of the keys to successful chipping is good distance control. And the basis of good distance control is a chipping action that is consistently repeatable, this method is so simple, the key is to keep the hands moving forward through impact, if they slow down we will get the scoop again.
When you have simple, repeatable chipping action, you can simply select a different club and get reliable, accurate results, we all remember Tiger’s famous 3 wood chip, no need to swing longer or harder, this again increases our margin for error, simply change clubs, you have 14 after all.
Remember, although they can be the same distance shots, Chipping and Pitching are quite different!