Everyone who plays golf has at one time or another faced their own bugaboo type shot. The shot they either fear or wish someone else would play for them. For some people this could be the drive; for others, it might be fairway bunker play or putting. To each his own. But there is one type of shot that bothers a lot of players, regardless of their experience. And those are the chip shots.
Many people can drive a ball a good distance, putt as if they have radar in their heads, but it’s that little piece of real estate close to the green that wonks up their scores on a routine basis. Poor chipping equals much higher scores. It’s that simple. And let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than getting close to the green and watching your chip shot screech across the green, past the hole, and go sliding off the other side. By that same token, a high-flying chip shot that overshoots are just as annoying.
Now I know (as I’m sure you do, too) there are a gazillion tips on proper chipping. Some of these are very good tips and should be followed by just about everyone. Others are, well, less than good. But as with all things golf, do what fits you best and works out for you on the links.
There is, however, one chipping tip that everyone needs to know and understand and practice. And that has to do with your hands-on impact.
A major factor in hitting consistent chip shots is for the hands to lead the clubface through impact.
The vast majority of thinned or fluffed chip shots occur when the clubhead overtakes the hands and is, therefore traveling on the upswing, rather than delivering a descending blow at impact.
The first thing to do at set up is to move the majority of your weight onto the left foot. The ball is played towards the back of the stance, and the hands go ahead of the ball. This is vital if you want to control your shots. Setting up your body so your hands can do what they are supposed to do is crucial to getting this right. Do not underestimate the importance of a good, proper stance when preparing to chip.
The chip shot can now be played with the correct downward strike. You should NOT be trying to slide the clubface under the ball, nor should you be trying to scoop the ball into the air.
The key now is to make sure that you keep the hands AHEAD OF THE BALL and not allow your wrists to dominate the shot. Players who get “wristy” at impact run the risk of thinning it clean through the green or chunking it a few inches.
I’ll share some more chipping tips with you in the future and you can decide if they work for you or not. But the one chipping tip you should truly consider as being worthwhile is the one you just read. Keep those hands ahead of the clubface.
by Robert Partain