The short game of golf can be classified as pitching, chipping, green-side bunker shots, and putting. As you probably know, the short game is important as it can give you the opportunity of birdie or par if you can chip well or bogey or worse if you can’t.
For example, if you are chipping on a par-3 it is because you missed the green and you will need to chip the ball close to the pin to give yourself a chance of saving par. Also, on a par-4 if you are chipping, it probably means that you missed your approach shot and you will be again have to chip close to make par. Chipping can often make or break your score, so here are a few golf chipping tips to help you improve your short game.
The Many Types of Chip Shot
Before we begin, it is important to realize that there are several types of chip shot that you can use when you are close or just off the green. For starters, chipping is more about feel or touch and so every golfer develops their own style of chip and uses their preferred short iron or wedge.
Also, you have to take into account whether you are in the rough, on the fairway, or on the fringe. Other factors will be the lie you have, how far the hole is across the green, the contours of the green, and if you have to carry a green-side bunker or other hazard.
As the chip shot requires finesse, you must remember that to perform it successfully you have to break it down into two parts – the plan and the execution. The planning stage is determining where on the green you want to land the ball and how far it will roll. You should always look for the simplest chip shot that your situation allows for; this is generally to get the ball on the green as soon as you can and allow it to roll to the hole.
Golf Chipping – Standard Chip
The first of our golf chipping tips will deal with the standard chip. This type of chip shot is played when you are relatively close to the green but still have 10 to 20 yards of longer grass (fairway or rough) to fly over and you have a fair amount of green between the fringe and the flag. As a rule of thumb, the golf ball should fly about 1/3 of the distance to the cup and then roll the rest of the way. Therefore, you will need to read the green from the point the ball will land to the hole as the ball will end up rolling on the green.
In general, you play the standard chip with a short-iron or any wedge that you are comfortable with. The standard chip ought to be played in the center of your stance with your hands well ahead of the ball, your weight focused on your lead foot, and the club face square to your target.
Golf Chipping – Soft Chip Shot
The next of our chipping tips, will deal with the soft shot. This type of chip makes the ball fly higher and land softly on the green close to the hole. This is probably the more difficult of the different golf chip shots and is more akin to the pitch shot but it has its uses; it is used when you have to fly the ball over a green-side hazard and there isn’t much green to work with, or you may decide to use the soft chip to land the ball closer to the hole when the green has more severe contours to negotiate.
The club used for a soft chip shot is the lob wedge, or you can use the sand wedge or gap wedge as well. For the soft shot, you should address the ball with a slightly open stance and with your club face open a bit. Play the ball forward in your stance with your feet closer together and with the majority of weight on your lead foot. Keep your hands behind the ball during the swing and learn to accelerate into it to get the ball airborne. When carried out properly, the ball will fly high for a short distance and then land softly on the green and roll just a bit.
Golf Chipping – Low Chip Shot
The last of our chipping tips is for the low chip shot which is often called the bump and run. When you are just off the green and there is a lot of green between you and the pin, the best percentage shot to use is the low chip shot or bump and run. The best percentage shot is the one that is the easiest one to carry out and for many golfers that is the bump and run. However it does require a lot of practice and the use of a club that you are really comfortable with.
Many golfers perform this shot with a different club depending on the distance to the hole. However, this will just complicate things for you; you should practice with several clubs, like the 7, 8, or 9-iron, until you find the one you are confident with. However, it could be any club; some Tour Pros use a 5-iron while others use a wedge but I personally prefer the 9-iron.
The low chip shot is played with the ball towards the back of your stance to obtain a descending type of impact that is needed. Keep your hands in front of the club-head, the club face square to the target, use a narrow stance and stand closer to the ball. Again, your weight needs to be on your lead foot and your swing should be a pendulum motion (arms and shoulders) with no wrist break.
If you decide to use the same club for short and long low chip shots as I recommended, you will have to get a feel for how hard to hit the ball for the different lengths of chip shot, so that you get the ball to the hole – or even in it!
The low chip shot or bump and run create the most roll once the ball lands on the green. It is a good chip to use when you can go straight for the hole but when you are fearful of hitting too far beyond it; for example, when there is a hazard like a bunker or water just off the back-side of the hole.
Summary of Golf Chipping Tips
Most of all, the best chipping tips I can give you is to practice the three types of chip shot mentioned above. Each type requires its own setup, swing style, and club, but the only way to master all three is to go to the practice range and put them into practice.
Remember that the best chip shot to use is the easiest one to execute under the circumstances that you are positioned in. The best percentage shot is the one where you can get the ball quickly on the green and running to the hole, which is normally the low chip shot. Take the time to find your ideal club for this shot and put in the practice time as it is relatively easy to get the ball close with practice.
The short game is all about finesse and touch so just be patient and continue practicing until it becomes second nature. Put these golf chipping tips to work for you and you will be on your way to master the short game and therefore attain a lower score.