The chip shot is one of the easiest to learn in the game. Yet, many recreational players have trouble hitting the short chip shot, even after several golf instruction sessions. In fact, they’re so bad, they substitute their putter for a wedge, which isn’t always wise, as I explain in my golf lessons.
Using a putter when you need a pitching wedge or a sand wedge is, needless to say, a poor decision. It can add strokes to your overall score or cost you a hole in match play. It’s a problem you must overcome to lower your golf handicap. If you can’t hit a short chip shot well, don’t despair. There’s help.
The inability to hit a short chip shot is as much mental as physical. To overcome these obstacles, you need to simplify both your mental approach and your physical technique. The next time you have a short chip shot, try using an 8 iron instead of a wedge. It’s an approach I sometimes use myself. That’s because it works.
Here are 6 keys to chipping as if you were putting that I recommend in my golf lessons:
• Replace your wedge with an 8 iron
• Take a normal putting stance
• Place hands and weight forward
• Hold the club vertically
• Hit the ball off the toe-end of the clubface
• Rock your shoulders to control roll of ball
First, set-up as if your were going to make a long putt. Use your normal putting grip and play the ball back in your stance, off the inside of the heel of your back foot. The 8 iron is ideal for this type of shot because it’s short enough to deloft without the club’s shaft hitting you during the shot.
Also, keep your hands and weight forward, favoring your front side, as you would if you were hitting a chip shot. Hold the club vertically, so that the club’s heel is raised off the ground, enabling you to stand closer to the ball. And, spread your elbows
moving the ball back in your stance and shifting your weight forward positions the ball off the toe-end of the clubhead when you hit it. Using the toe-end will deaden the ball when you make contact. It will also help control the ball’s roll.
Hit the ball with a gentle rocking of the shoulders, as you would if you were putting. This technique raises the club several inches off the ground in the backswing and forces you to hit down on the ball slightly, chipping it into the air. Concentrate on maintaining the width of the gap between your elbows as you swing through. It also ensures a pure arms-and-shoulders motion.
Using the 8-iron approach takes your wrists out of play. Recreational golfers who have trouble making short chip shots often have overly active wrists. With my approach, you’ll eliminate your wrists yet still strike the ball solidly—just keep your head still and focus on making a short, firm follow-through.
You can also use my approach for longer chip shots. Just lengthen your stroke to play the longer shot, as you would if you were hitting a long putt. For extra long chip shots, try using a 5 or 6 iron to get the required roll.
Chip under Target Drill
–The key to accurate chipping is keeping the ball low so it runs like a putt when it hits the ground. Here’s a drill I use in my golf lessons designed to teach players to keep the ball low.
Lay a club or bag horizontally across two baskets placed about 3 feet apart. Then, step back a few feet and try chipping under the obstacle toward the hole, using either a wedge or an 8 iron.
To chip under the obstacle, you must deloft the club, which you can do by keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead when you swing. Having a visual obstacle to hit the ball under forces you to develop your ability to keep the ball low. Keep practicing this shot until it becomes second nature.
Hitting the short chip shot well—whether you use a wedge or an 8 iron— is a start toward improving your short game, and chopping strokes off your golf handicap. And, aren’t those the real goals?